I mammy taxi’d my youngest and some of his friends up the mountains last month, they had their plan for the day which included jumping in water and firing things at one another in the manner of teenage boys everywhere, and I just wanted to pick some fraocháns, explore some woods, take some pictures and maybe get to splash my ankles about in a stream for a bit at some healthy distance away.
When the lads trudged off for a bit to do some exploring in a faintly quarry-esque hollow, I sat on a hillock and stuffed myself with pleasingly tart berries, sizzled just a little in the strong sun and was comfortingly entranced by the multi-flit danceways of butterflies amoung the nearby flowers. I found but utterly failed to get a decent photo of milkwort, a pretty little thing, and watched the foxgloves engulf bees over and over. As the boys amused themselves I wandered a little down the road to see what there was to see. I heard it slightly before I saw it. There was a patch of treated, dead or dying Japanese Knotweed, and I swear it clicked and buzzed oddly, not like grasshoppers, a different sort of noise. I’ve left it too late to recount the tale, my memory is fuzzy now, but I was weirdly fascinated by the patch and came back to it a few times to see if it was still making the peculiar clicking rattle in the sun.
I decided there were probably better things to wander about near and found instead what at first appeared a curious regiment of beech trees, a stripe sloping down to the far more common conifer woods, cool and strongly shaded. The ground snapped and shushed in that pleasing way a beech wood does, and I kept an eye out for brittlegill fungi on the slope.
Beyond the initial stand of smooth barked guards, however, the wood became a far more eldritch, scrambling, moss furred place, fallen trees and branches entangling and twining in a slow failing, downwards sinew towards light and the valley, home to creatures worthy of the Dark Crystal masquerading as moss.
Everywhere there were boltholes and hidden places, even where bracket fungi seemed to rust, and I fancied at glyphs left by leaf travelling caterpillars and snail trails.
I lay along a fallen trunk and enjoyed the cool and respite from already biting midges and let my mind turn many a corner-of-my-eye-shape into mischievous creatures on unknown quests and enjoyed the peculiar little place immensely.