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.