With the storm clouds building overhead and the distant rumble of thunder passing across the woodland I stepped off the wide track and onto the woodland floor beneath the dense canopy of the conifers. The woodland floor was carpeted with fallen pine needles and lay barren of the undergrowth that flourished in other areas close by. Before me lay abandoned shelters, their framework resembled the exposed carcass of a long dead beast clustered around the tall trunks of the pine trees.
I walked amongst the structures as the first drops of rain tapped into the canopy overhead. The frames had lasted many years but the covering of branches and fallen debris had slipped to the base of the frames or had been carried away in the passing of time. Some shelters would have comfortably held a single soul for a night or two, others were bigger and must have held a few occupants. I smiled as I stood among the rustic ruins, it appeared the youths from the village near by had received instruction on how to put together these shelters and had no doubt enjoyed some time in the company of friends and mentors in the past.
In the failing light and the approaching storm the bones of the shelters could have passed as a woodland sculpture. A bold statement of form and function harvested from the surrounding environment and gently decaying in harmony with its surroundings. Earlier in the evening I had passed the remains of another abandoned camp, a budget tent lay broken and strewn with plastic bags, its decay was far less harmonious and brought the traces of a throw away culture to a place that should be treated with a greater respect.
I allowed the images of the harvested shelters to fill my mind for a moment, I suspect it had been many years since the woodland floor had been used for teaching and enjoyment in such a way. I hope the sight of the shelters will spark a fond image and perhaps encourage another group to enjoy the experience.