wild garlic & woodsmoke

I spent my early years on the edge of Dartmoor’s wilderness: the high, desolate moor, in summer dressed with a trimming of golden coconut-scented gorse. A ruined castle was my playground, ice-cold streams my paddling pool. As a small child I ran through steep woodland where the ancient hollow trees housed -I felt quite sure of it- fairies and Devon pixies. The sun rarely shone on those remembered childhood days- the skies hung heavy and grey, and my hair was always curling, damp with raindrops. 

My recollections are imperfect and fractured: the rich earthy scent of the moor, water on my skin, my bright yellow rain suit, the bite of the wind. And yet somewhere in my unconscious I carry with me the pure essence of wilderness, a sense of freedom, a longing for a barely recalled place. 

Now, I see my own children running between the trees in the woods above our house, with stick swords held in muddy hands. In a clearing, I sit with them amongst a carpet of bright leaves watching tiny sparks fly from their fire steels, as they light a flame in the fire pit to ward against the air’s chill. I hear their shouts and laughter ring out in the place we hold so dear, and I breathe in deeply; the scent of wild garlic and woodsmoke.

It occurs to me that this landscape of their childhood will forever be a part of them, that these are the sights and smells that will flutter in years to come at the edges of their consciousness. As they grow, and change and move away, the wildness will sing to them as it has sung to me. I hope that it always does.

[Adapted from a piece that I wrote for Lionheart Magazine]

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  • Oh, this story…filled with such wonder and beauty. Such a gift in both your childhood and that of your children’s. I savor your stories shared here…thank you.