All these years I’ve been living next to a beautiful old forest without ever exploring its depths. And I’ve always dismissed any hour before 6am as entirely inhumane. Yet now you’ll find me weaving between beautiful old trunks before the sun has even hit the canopy. As with most things these days, I blame the dog. Seeing him bound around the paths with the super-speedy enthusiasm of a hound released from his leash is always a cheery way to start the day.
I’ve never spent so much time paying attention to a forest waking up. Every day is different and the same. Some mornings the dew soaks my boots as we creep through a thick mist. We notice the spider webs hanging from the tips of grass blades, keeping their residents dry. At other times the pink light streams way out west to light up the Downs in the distance. We see a buzzard swoop directly over our heads, seemingly perturbed at such an early intrusion.
With the damp green smell and blossoming bird chorus I can pretend for a moment that I’ve emerged from canvas after a night in the wild, rather than having just hopped out of the car. The tall pines take me back to my Humboldt roots and I indulge in memories of backpacking adventures.
Beyond the odd buzzard, most of the wilderness stays well hidden. Good job too. Given Rolo’s predictable passion for sticks I’m all too glad that no squirrels have flashed a tail in our direction.
Early morning starts have become an unexpectedly delightful habit. These summer days are just made for it. I’m not too sure if I’ll still be tramping these trails at 6am in January, so for now I’m just enjoying the delights of the very earliest of summer starts.