This is the cricket ground at Roebuck Green, Buckhurst Hill where we started from. Maybe I should’ve titled this post Walking With Shadows, I was so taken with them that’s almost all I photographed, they were so strong and well-defined. It was a bright Sunday and for once, instead of avoiding the busier parts of the forest, we just dived straight in, choosing to follow the wider paths. Mostly it was not too crowded.
And if the path gets busy, we step aside and walk with the trees.
And sometimes the trees can look like shadows too.
Or bleached bones shining in the sun.
I want to reach out and grab ya
At the time of writing this was just a few weeks ago, but by the time I post it all will have changed and this will be draped in a cloak of green. New leaves are coming thick and fast, dressing the trees for British Summer Time.
Sadly though, unknown to us as we walked here, another similar pond nearby was being explored by police in their search for Richard Okorogheye. They later confirmed they had found his body. He had come by himself from Ladbroke Grove, by bus and by taxi and then walked two miles through the midnight forest and into the cold dark water of the Wake Valley Pond.
I love Epping Forest but I’ve never walked through it at night.
We do not have to be long in the woods to experience the always rather anxious impression of “going deeper and deeper” into a limitless world. Soon, if we do not know where we are going, we no longer know where we are.
Gaston Bachelard: The Poetics of Space
Forests, especially, with the mystery of their space prolonged indefinitely beyond the veil of tree-trunks and leaves, space that is veiled for our eyes, but transparent to action, are veritable psychological transcendents.
J Emile Marcault & Thérèse Brosse: L’Education de Demain
The Lost Pond, if you can find it, is a good place to get lost. It is watched over by sentinel beech pollards, each with a story to tell, written by human hands on their smooth grey pages. The Lost Pond has been a place of solace.
I came here when Mum died, but it wasn’t me who inscribed her name. She was waiting for me to find her. So now each time I must stop to say hello.
I came here after I’d had a lobectomy, and before I was given the all clear, told it wasn’t lung cancer after all, just my bronchial tree had been pruned.
But we, when moved by deep feeling, evaporate;
we breathe ourselves out and away;
wrote Rilke in his Second Elegy.
In making art, the artist expires, breathing themselves out to allow the inspiring to happen, the breathing in of the glinting universal air, intelligent with many minds, electric and on the loose. Artist, shapeshifter, shaman or poet, all are lovers of metamorphosis, all are minded to vision, insight and dream.
Jay Griffiths: The Forests of the Mind
This is one of my favourite works of art, an untitled piece by an unknown artist, and a national treasure to compare with Stonehenge. It’s a dozen trees in one tree, a beech that once was coppiced then later pollarded. Now lapsed pollards from one stool, known as a coppard. And now that I look again I see that I came here on Easter Sunday three years ago – Coppard. It’s over a thousand years old; a winding tree to spin the yarn of centuries.
It’s a tree to inhale the whole forest.
And then breathe it out again… Back on the Clay Ride, it’s a short step from ancient to modern, and a new more human-size tree. I could inhale all of it, respire and restore my inner tree, were it not already hung with votive offerings in thanks for another year’s new spring, new life, new-laid eggs for Easter or Eostre, oestrogen, estrogen or Estragon. Charming spot. Maybe this is the tree where we wait for Godot. Let’s hang ourselves immediately!
The light through the leaves
The shape of the breeze
The shadows and the trees
Take a deep breath… and breathe…
PS: There was once a restaurant called Godot’s, just down the road from here in Chingford, but the service was very slow. It’s not there anymore.