If you go down to the woods today

There are some people who believe that once you hit 18 years old, you are an adult. While I can’t disagree with them in the legal sense, I prefer to make a distinction between ‘adults’ and ‘grown ups’. Adults being people who happen to be over the age of 18, grown ups being adults with the trappings of maturity (i.e. not living with their parents, making pension plans and doing the ironing more than twice a year). I fall into the former category, having recently moved back in with my parents because I can’t afford to live any where else. It’s a funny feeling going from 4 years of independence at university in a new city, remembering to pay the water bill and hosting cheese and wine parties, to going back to your teenage bedroom (still decorated with posters of Pete Doherty). It’s easy to fall back into your teenage ways, too, especially with your teenage brother in the next room, his angst seeping in under the doorways.

Well, if you’re not a grown up and you can’t face reversing to adolescence, you might as well go back to childhood.  So this weekend I pulled on my boots, dug out my mittens and set off for the woodland at the top of our road.

I slid across leaves blown down by last week’s mega-storm, sloshed through puddles and stood quietly beneath the trees watching the squirrels and birds go about their business.

IMG_0936Although it’s already November (how???), there was still plenty to look at in the woods (and the park and the mini golf course that I later strayed into). Before I knew it, I’d started collecting bits and bobs from off the ground to take home with me for a ‘nature table’ (last seen in primary school).

IMG_0937As I bent over to pick up a particularly great looking acorn, I heard footsteps followed by talking, and realised that I was no longer alone, and that in fact the playing field I had wandered into was full of families, dog walkers and joggers, who must have wondered what on earth I was doing, bent over in the mud and picking things off the floor. It also occurred to me that the dogs may have got to the autumnal delights before me, and made a mental note to scrub my hands as soon as I got home.

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Once home (and after washing my hands several times), I set about sorting out my finds. I separated the leaves into different groups, shoved branches into empty milk bottles and fetched down plant encyclopaedias.

IMG_3354In the end, I couldn’t be bothered to go through and identify every leaf I found. Do you know how many acers look the same?!

I was content with my pink flushed cheeks and piles of acorns. The bottles full of plant off shoots will remind me of the magic of the outside world as I get ready to go into the office this week.

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Have you found yourself reverting to childhood since moving home from uni? Do you spend your lunch hour looking for conkers? Surely I can’t be the only one…
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