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Today’s word is track.
Some say those that were born here have … the thing. The magic of the forest, sap running through veins, nooks and crannies, corners that hold secrets. A quirky look at life, grounded in soil and mulch.
I was born of this place, in the cottage hospital on the edge of Savernake forest. An ancient wood 2750 acres of mystery and as you would expect history. As a child, I once was found sleeping at the foot of the Great Bellied Oak.
Fred liked to walk with his girls through the forest, when time allowed,The youngest would no doubt need carrying before the track had stopped its meandering. The day was sunny and all was lush, branches flicked light this way and that, birdsong was full-throated all in all he thought, its a good day for a walk.
Me, the three-year-old, me, loved to walk the most, but my chubby legs would not always keep up with the want to finish. That was when Daddy’s arms helped out and shoulder high I would grab his ears to hold on and soak in the atmosphere. Shafts of light threw colours or that was what Dad said, I knew it was something special. My sisters four and six didn’t really want to walk but we all loved Daddy and his treats. The story goes that I had held daddy’s hand until we stopped to share a picnic; a bag of Smiths crisps with a twist of salt and a bottle of Orangina. Three straws he pulled from his handkerchief pocket we sat on Dads tweed Jacket three little bums; eyes as big as saucers. Once the feast was over we stood so he could shake his Jacket. Like a magician, he pulled a white paper bag stuffed with soft Pontefract cakes from his cap. I remember how we oohed and ahhed, how he did the Dad magic, producing a perfect round Pontefract coin from behind our ears.
This is where our stories differ, (Dad’s version) the sisters playing chase ran off the track, I couldn’t keep up my legs were far to short for his turn of foot. So he told me to wait and not move from the spot and he’d return as quickly as he could. (My recollection) My feet could not go fast enough as I was swept behind a frightened Dad through the forest, my hands wet from licking the liquorice from my fingers slipped free, and I fell with a bump. When I woke Dad was not there, I was laying on a bed of moss at the foot of the Giant oak. A voice whispered as I sat up; ‘do not be afraid child, we forest folk always look after our own.’ I looked around but could not see anything more than a wisp of colour flash by my head. Daddy, with one sister under each arm, was struggling to walk and calling my name. I told a very cross face that he wasn’t to worry his head, the forest folk took great care of me, when you were gone.
Our stories have like Chinese whispers altered with the years, but last week was the first time I returned to that spot. Now a road is next to the Old Big Bellied Oak, and the A346 south of Caudley trundles caravans and cars by oblivious to the magic.
Were you born somewhere magical? Or have you visited such a magical place? leave me a comment I love to converse.