The day was bright, the Winter sun full in the sky as we made our way to the forest. Once there in a small clearing we sat beside a low campfire and watched by the tall trees sat down and shared the beauty which surrounded us.

We talked and walked and looked at the forest pointing to spotted plants, toadstools and other fungi and our hearts sang at the sound and notes of birds, whilst the majestic trees kept a silent vigil watching  to be sure that we, the intruders had careful hands.

We dined on sweet cakes and drank fresh water from silver goblets as the chidren also nibbled on a chocolate or two and gulped down soft drink. We felt like Kings of old as the trees smiled and began a gentle sigh which whispered a immortal song that caressed the Winter breeze.

The song widened and wound its way along the never-ending sea of glens and dales, groves and nooks. The musical notes ran along a bubbling stream, kissed shy spider webs and teased late butterflies hovering over mossy rocks.

Down went the song, down, down to the damp moist earth; and then rose high stretching up towards glimpses of blue sky and joyfully laughing with mirth, for here indeed is the fairy world and home of the Gods with bracken houses and softened pine needle beds for weary strangers.

    In the green trees Elves dance upon the wind and bestow gifts of sight to those who love and respect their home. Keepers of the Trees, they sing their own song and the tune is harmony, pure and gracious, healing all who have the understanding to hear the melody. It is a sacred place and secrets are treasured things amongst the folliage and small animals who live under the protection of the forest and if any sacrilege be committed here, the sigh of the trees becomes a roaring in the ears to drive the offender to madness. But today no such roaring occurred only the now quickkening  of the breeze and a gentle crystal light note calling from the centre of the forest carried on the memory of breath and sound. Then silence! Potent and omniscient in its message:"It is time to leave now. The sun is  beginning to set." And as dusk began to fall the trees seemed to draw closer to us and their silence was a beautiful but definite song of Goodbye with a warning in its voice,"Take heed humans do not stay over long for when darkness comes other life is born which no man woman or child is permitted to see unless their hearts be sacred and true with peace and harmony. This is a magical place. Bow your heads and smile with joy in your hearts for we have welcomed your visit and will delight in your return."

Slowly and reluctantly yet knowing we still had much to learn of Nature and her ways we turned as one and retraced our steps back through the dimming light to the start of the forest. But we were not alone in the fast growing onset of Longest Night for the Gods came with us leading the way back to the gates of our mortal world and gently guiding our footsteps so we wouldnt stumble over hidden root. And there lying just beyond the gate was a bunch of early wildflowers and bracken and I heard the soft laughter of Persephone and footfalls of Zeus as they followed the sound of pipes from somewhere deep inside the forest.

As we approached the shadow of our car the stars began to come out and danced with a pale moon which cast a pale light over the wildflowers. I gathered them up and held them close cherishing the scent of the forest. My young sons smiled at me knowingly, for they too were grateful and happy for the privelege of sharing in the majesty and beauty of the forest on a mid-winter's day.


                                --------------------------------------------- (CRENELLE.)