We are incredibly lucky to live only minutes from gorgeous woodland, which we visit almost daily.
As I enter the woods, the air seems different; cooler, calmer, and I feel as if I can breathe again.
Walking along the familiar paths is a totally mindful experience.
The colours, the light, the sounds are at once familiar and yet different every time…I still lose the smaller paths every autumn when the leaves from the deciduous hazel, oak and birch submerge them and the bare trees appear suddenly changed in character.
As an antidote to the stresses of everyday life, I try to take time to check in with my thoughts regularly within the peace and stillness of the woods.
On sunny days, the dappled light seems to dance among the trees, and my phone is full of photographs of the light falling through the branches in new and unusual ways.
In rainy weather, the trees provide a welcome respite and the smells of the forest take centre stage, the rich earthy scent filling my lungs.
During windy weather, the trees lean towards one another, lost in a conversation I can hear but not understand.
I love to run through the woods, the rugged trails keeping me alert and energised, the ever-changing sights and sounds encouraging me onwards.
I run mostly with my dog, free to follow whichever trail beckons us, to alter the pace according to our whims and needs.
We return home thoroughly content, feeling ready to tackle whatever the day may bring.
The woods offer the most glorious natural playground.
My children, who are all too quickly rushing towards their teenage years, likewise feel different in the woods, the lethargy and pull of screens rapidly forgotten as we step between the trees.
In their place, we find a lightness, a way to play together as we used to when they were tiny.
Both their imaginations and their physicality are amplified when playing in the woods, where the possibility of building and inhabiting hidden worlds becomes real.
Woodlands represent every stage of life and death at once, from the tiny buds emerging to the decaying fallen oak.
This demonstration that we humans, with our squabbles and self-made struggles, are simply a tiny part of a vast ecosystem.
This awareness leaves me both humbled by, and proud to be a custodian for, the intricacy of the natural world of which we are so much a part.