The birds are mostly silent, just a few coarse rooks and the dry-gulch chatter of a magpie from the wood opposite. Past the front of Cotterstock Hall the trees and foliage have been trimmed and cleared and pruned without mercy for many months now. There’s barely a patter of rain on leaves, but plenty of splashes from the black plastic put down to deter weeds where the aconites and wood anenomes used to grow – a whole different soundscape from a year ago.
Along the field there are flurries of sound as I pass under the sycamores stretched out along the path. Then into the wood. Goodness it’s dark – it could be dusk and it’s only mid-morning! Easy to underestimate just how little light gets through the canopy of leaves in the summer and early autumn.
There are lots of rain sounds at every level, from treetops to boughs, branches to leaves and twigs, and then on down to the forest floor. I’m surrounded by sound – I feel like I’m surfing in it. There’s more leaf fall on the path now, overlaying the feather fall of the last weeks.
There’s a small section of the path which is completely dry. I’m always interested to see what’s causing that. It’s some overhanging ivy – worth looking out for on another day if I’m caught out without proper clothing.
This is a day for mushrooms and fungus. I find the tall willow whose trunk I’d noticed a few days ago was bedecked with fungus. It’s a magnificent sight. I count the rungs of a surreal ladder of shell shapes growing up and out of the bark – there are at least 50. It has the texture and colour of bread or pizza dough.
On through the woods and into the open. The louder rain sounds fade away and I’m left with the sharp splashes off my clothing. I stop to look at blackberries in a hedgerow. The rain bounces through them but hangs in long lens-shaped drops from the elderberries close by.
I look up the tree fungus when I get home, and it appears to be called Chicken of the Woods. It certainly looks edible. I could imagine frying it if I was brave enough.