I've got into the habit of working through my lunch hour when I am office-based on Mondays and Tuesdays. This is all the more foolish because I work five minutes walk away from a lovely wood in a miniature gorge with a river running through it and a bronze age burial mound in the field above it, all made more miraculous by the fact that it is on the edge of a large inner-city council estate. And to my shame, I hadn't visited since October. So today, as it was sunny and dry and I fanced a break, I took a stroll down there.
It's my almost favourite time of year in Badock's Wood, not because it is especially beautiful now, but because I know that it soon will be. The horse chestnut tree in the cleft of which a celandine will soon bloom is still bare but the whitethorn buds look as if they will open within the week. The blizzards of wild garlic which will fill the darkening late spring wooods with light are no more than a blade or two of green pushing through the soil, but already you can smell that faint, familiar whiff. Anticipation is all.
I've been coming down here for a few years now, almost obsessively during the break-up my marriage and its aftermath, at first alone and then with my dark poet, Ted. Here he is as a pup, with me, Will and Liza. In some ways it's hard to believe that he is four now; in others, he - and the wood - have been part of my life forever.
A lot of trees have been thinned on the right hand bank of the river since I was last there, and this makes me a little sad although the wood is sensitively managed by the Forest of Avon and I'm sure they've done it for a reason. On the other hand, some things are the same year in, year out. Boggis, my favourite beech root, has been caught short again and with no bluebells yet to cover his blushes.
And the trees ... well, the trees are still dancing to the end of love.