In the not so distant past the woodcutter stared at the clear morning sky before gazing across at the woodland trees bereft of their leaves in midwinter. He looked at the small woodpile realising it needed replenishing and it was best done before the weather changed. He grabbed his hunting knife and his small axe and set off into the bleak woods his feet crunching leaves underfoot as they slowly slipped from Jack Frosts clutches.
The woodsman had already scavenged the closest woodland and would have to go farther for more windfalls He would only cut a live tree out of necessity so he scoured the undergrowth for fallen branches. Deeper into the wood he trod past the cave of the hermit . Empty for years but the footprints of his presence still visible in the ravaged devastated shelter a little further on. Torn apart by the village youth when they grew brave after his departure. The woods had once been a hub of activity but now it’s ruined mine workings silent dilapidated and invisible overgrown by nature. A stone tossed over the wall surrounding a disused mineshaft finally clatters to the bottom. Will it wake a sleeping dragon . Maybe not today.
Patrolling his territory keeping the paths clear and finding branches along the way trimming them with the axe to make them easier to carry home. Hearing a noise he stands surveying silently in the pose of a meerkat before hurrying on to the woods edge. He inspects the holes deep into the hedge two of the tunnels used in the night as the Badgers forage. Marking the earth with their claws as they searched for food.
Moving on he reaches the platform in a tree and scrambles up it. He can see for miles across fields and woodland all is quiet on this chilly day. He climbs down and peels some bark from a birch tree. Paper thin it can be used with thin twigs instead of paper to start a fire, but not today with no leaves on the trees the smoke may be visible from a distance. So he plods back gathering a few branches dragging them home whilst watching and listening for the monsters of the wood. He is yet to see them but he knows they are there. One day who know what could happen.
He arrives home and gets a saw and whilst cutting the wood into logs a voice calls from the house “Jonathon where have you been?” The 9 year old boy replies” nowhere Mum just got some firewood.“
This was part of my childhood. I explored woodland , climbing not only trees but water wheels, fished in lakes and streams, lit fires, built shelters, accidentally entering abandoned clay dries, no field had a hedge that couldn’t be climbed over . Boundaries were for other people A tractor in the field oh shit keep walking head for the gap in to the next field. I was rarely challenged. I had quite a large territory and no one knew where I was . I had freedom , no social media and no mobile phone. I had some instances of bullying in my childhood but here I was king. I was in my own Kingdom and couldn’t be touched. Even now I sometimes retreat to quiet places where I can just drink in the solitude.
I could never give my children quite the same freedom. In this day and age I would have a visit from social services if I gave a child a sheath knife. Yet to me it was a tool. I could make a bow and arrow. Although my accuracy with any bow I made was lacking.
I live in Cornwall a beautiful place and although things have changed I urge you to give your families the freedom and opportunity to be free. Children have the benefit of a sense of wonder and if you let them use it , it will always be with them. In these days of constant demands of modern life and the controlling aspects of social media. Maybe they need it more than ever.
The past few years I have posted a Xmas message and although late this is it Merry Xmas and a happy new year.
Love to all