Sunwise round Rathescar lake, looking out for acorns under the mighty Oaks.... Not time yet. I've come here many times with my lady and two boys, searching out leprechauns and their homes ,singing the magic song... "Up the airy mountains Down the rushy glen, We darent go a hunting For fear of little men. Wee folk, good folk Trooping all together, Green jackets, red caps And white owl feathers." (William Allingham) Its a whole other, real life world , for the boys and reminds me of my uncle and him telling the self same stories. I've played the pipes in these woods, saluting the ancestors, but this time , for the first time ever , i'm on my own. I was asked to come... The wind rushes through the trees, like a mighty torrent through a grand canyon. The stoney path cracks and clinks, as bits of shale ,skip and grind beneath my feet. Dead wood crackles and dogs bark , chasing sticks. A wood pigeon flutters through the trees...three white owl feathers form a path to the the metal bridge over the stream and horse hoof imprints in the soft earth ,guide me through the forest. Chestnut shells cracked open on the ground,a squirrels feast no doubt and wild mushrooms( leprechaun stools) ,push up from beneath mothers earth.
In search of a grove, I meander through the wood , to a rotted stump and a newly born Beech tree. Wild fern in full bloom, midges hover, hoping for a tasty morsel ! In the distance, an old tree, strangled with ivy, creaks and wails in the wind ,longing for a peaceful end. Its familiar friends lay rotting on the floor. Life goes on , re-incarnating , as young shoots push there way through the bramble toward the golden light. Semi-dried up brooks , begin and end beneath the hoody cloak. I hug the giant Oak ,hoping to soak in some of his ancient wisdom...not today. Into the clearing, the sky is bright, a Yew tree marks a path to an overgrown ruin, in the middle of a freshly hewn meadow cut in time before the rain....What history is this?.... Tree roots become steps ,as I make my way to the lake and the leprechaun drawbridge. I pass another Yew, but wheres the curve? And then it happens, the mighty Oak did speak, I just had to ask! Awestruck and eyes wide open , right in front of me ,natures drape reveals a grove , of Yew trees, inaccessible as brush and bramble, nettle and briar, bar the way, but its a grove ! Who knows what lies in the undergrowth. How do I get in.... My body lightens and the way becomes clear. The heavy rain comes ,but the wood is so abundant, barely a drop hits my hood. I find a spot ,shaded by a mature Beech , I listen for some time , to the song of the wind and the tap of the cascading rain drops ,rolling from leaf to leaf, as they make there way to the sodden earth below.Then, I feel a sudden surge of energy , I must chant ,'Awen ,'Awen' , 'Awen'. It fills me up, eyes widening, there are old paths all around,long forgotten and trees ,forming natural benders ,protecting me from the elements. "Mother nature takes care of her own" ,she whispers. I find a deep trench , covered in bramble and leaves, thickly walled on either side with life giving fern. Tentatively , I walk the soggy path , step by step,to its conclusion and then ,as if by magic ,i'm back on familiar ground. Where did the time go! I've been here many times, why have I never seen this path.... The rain subsides and the sun speckled track guides me back to the beginning. There is nothing like the autumn scent of decomposing leaves and rain soaked woods being dried in the sun. Something happened here today, I don't want to dwell on it , just feel it wash over me. To name it, decipher it ,somehow try to identify it ,would steal its magic. I've felt it a few times before ,at various stages in my life. But this time ,i'm just going to enjoy this communion, this oneness with nature ,heady ,other worldly ,mystical , freeing the wild man,this breathtaking union ,for as long as it lasts and not question it ,or try to ,blindly ,search it out once it goes. For its not gone, its always here, I just need to keep my eyes wide open.