Questioning looks from sullen faces seemed to be the sight greeting me as I arrived at a familiar wood. With the setting sun all of the days walkers were climbing back into their cars for their journey back to the suburbs. Perhaps they had not enjoyed their day or were saddened at the thought of a return to civilisation, but the glum expressions held my eye and tried to influence my mind. As is often the case, I was heading the opposite way. Heads turned with questioning expressions to watch me pass the steel gates placed to prevent vehicles entering the wood and with every step I felt my enjoyment growing.
Once off the wider paths I found myself among the worn earth tracks weaving their way among saplings with the background and canopy of the taller pine trees throwing shadow and depth to the scene of the setting sun. I ducked and leaned around the overhanging branches as I wandered, beneath me I could feel the protruding root structure of the trees on the track reminding me to tread gently to save an unscheduled trip into the brambles.
My lead dog took position on the track ahead, her brown coat standing proud against the deepening greens of the wood. From beside her another brown shaped moved from the undergrowth and took to the air. The silent wing beats carried the tawny owl gracefully down the winding path. I watching in admiration how the wing tips were turned effortlessly to avoid touching the branches I would soon be twisting to avoid. After a short flight the tawny landed back among the low trees and vanished in perfect stillness. We followed down the path and again the tawny took to flight leading the way until we reached a clearing in the low cover. With arcing grace the bird lifted to the higher canopy and vanished among the upper branches of the tall pines.
Whatever had left the travelers of the day with their sunken expressions had perhaps vanished with the setting sun. For me the master of the may wood had shown me elegance and beauty along the most narrow and twisting of paths, as I make my own travels I will try to allow the influence of such qualities into my mind.