The Beechwoods – ‘The Wild Places’

Beechwoods 160615-30The opening chapter of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places is titled ‘Beechwood.  He starts:

The wind was rising, so I went to the wood.  It lies south of the city, a mile from my home: a narrow nameless fragment of beechwood topping a shallow hill.  I walked there, following streets to the city’s fringe, and then field edge paths through hedgerows of hawthorn and hazel.

Rooks haggled in the air above the threes.  The sky was a bright cold blue, fading to milk at its edges.  From a quarter of a mile away, I could hear the noise of the wood in the wind: a soft marine roar.  It was the immense compound noise of friction – of leaf fretting on leaf, and branch rubbing on branch.

I’m going to re-read the chapter the next time I’m there.  My only quibble with this evocative introduction is the word ‘nameless’.  As a child taken there and visiting it now, it was and is singular, definite and precise, ‘The Beechwoods’, as befits its uniqueness.

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