A blue sky is always a good excuse to escape to the woods for some fresh air therapy. Acquiring an extra child, we set off with a car full of excited girls. Our journey took us through country fields and villages, winding along, crawling slowly behind tractors, then flying down deserted roads. The golden fields of rapeseed whizzing past made for a beautiful car ‘I Spy’ game; a cheerful distraction on our journey.
I always have a surge of happiness as we turn onto the lane to the woods. That short drive, carefully dodging baby rabbits, signifies escape from the real world. I can’t explain the joy that this random bunch of trees holds, but they’re ours and they hold happy memories and promises of adventures to come. Our magical little woodland is special. The children eagerly pull on wellies and disappear into the trees, long before we arrive at the camp. They seek out the familiar, climbing their favourite tree, racing to the rope swings and delving into the earth to prepare a feast in their mud kitchen. My husband also has his routines, checking the wildlife camera and making a fire are always his first priorities. I however, seek out the new, the changes, I potter to discover what each season has brought.
For the last few weeks I’ve watched the progress of the bluebells. With each visit I’ve eagerly headed to the bank on the edge of the secret field, in the hope I’ll be greeted by a sea of blue. This visit was the one. I could smell the heady scent long before I arrived. It’s a unique smell. I’ve always associated colours with smells and this is the scent of violet; rich, sweet and exotic. I surged downhill, wading through ferns and brambles, in anticipation of the scene beyond.
The children charged on to run through the long grass in the field, leaving me for a little moment of calm with my bluebells. Just as well if folklore is to be believed, for the bluebells are fairy flowers. It is told that an unsuspecting child wandering into a bluebell ring, will fall under a fairy enchantment. Other tales claim that the wearer of a bluebell crown will be compelled to tell only the truth.
I trusted my woodland fairies were a friendlier bunch than those of folklore and settled against a tree, my legs stretched out on a carpet of blue. I could see the children through the trees, dancing and twirling, then disappearing from sight as they rolled in the long grasses. As their voices blended with the breeze, the sounds of the woodland drifted back. I listened out for the ringing of the bells, a summoning for the fairies to gather. Instead, I heard only the hum of wings as bees and butterflies enjoyed their feast.
This time of year is special to me and even without the fairies, I have fallen under the enchantment of my bluebell bank.
THE SONG OF THE BLUEBELL FAIRY
My hundred thousand bells of blue,
The splendour of the Spring,
They carpet all the woods anew
With royalty of sapphire hue;
The Primrose is the Queen, ’tis true.
But surely I am King!
The peerless Woodland King!
– Bluebell Fairy by Mary Cicely Barker