On Sunday, Mr. Michie and I took a walk into the woods. We were beginning to deck the halls in the cottage and still had a few pumpkins left over from the Autumnal season.
So, we loaded them up into a basket and carted them off with us. We photographed the beauty of the woods as we walked and I took one last picture of the pumpkins that were ours this season.
Then, Mr. Michie smashed my large pumpkin up and we tucked the chunks into different recesses near the pond, so that the muntjacs, bunnies, squirrels, birds and other woodland creatures would have something delicious to feast on as the weather has turned truly frosty.
Today is beautiful and sunny here in our little London burb. The air is slightly warm but there is still a chill in it. It is the perfect day to throw on a hat and light scarf, grab a coffee and go sit by the pond. We might just do that!
It would be a wonderful picnic day, those perfect days when you feel the seasons slipping into the next. There is always a magic in the air at this time. Maybe a cupcake will jump into my hands while I pick up my coffee.
These Martha Stewart ladybug cupcakes would be perfect to bring with us, and have a “ladybug picnic”! However, I know I won’t be able to find these in my town today, I will just have to face the hardship of settling for a decadently rich chocolate cupcake with a rocky-road topping, or maybe a vanilla cupcake filled with raspberry jam and a swirl of raspberry buttercream and tiny hearts on top. It will be difficult to bring myself to have to eat one of these instead, but I will suffer through and do my best! (he he he)
Wish you were here, you could enjoy a cupcake with me too!
(Ladybug Cupcake image copyright Martha Stewart-click on the image to get her recipe for these cute cakes)
This past weekend we went on our annual twig hunt for the Easter Egg tree. Normally we come back with a selection of different sized branches, but this year we actually found a fallen branch that looked more like a little German Christmas tree. So, home it came with us to be decorated.
The woods are very slowly starting to come to life. Daffodils are peaking their crowned heads up, polka dotting everywhere with sunshine yellow. We came across 2 muntjacs who were making their way down to the pond to drink, they saw us and leaped and bounded in the other direction. The smaller one, however, stopped behind a tree and just watched us for a little while as we watched him.
It was cold on Sunday, so even though we were bundled up we didn’t last long in the woods the damp just oozed in to your pores. But the smell of fresh earth and clean air was so nice after a winter of not being able to walk in the woods, it wasn’t too long though before we headed home to decorate our tree.
It was bigger than we thought! The scale of the woods made our little branch look “little“. It wasn’t until we got home and tried to get it through the door we realized we had a problem!
After some laughing and cutting down the longer branches and trimming away some of the bottom we finally got it up. It is my first bit of Easter and there will be more to come this week. If the sunshine won’t be outside, I can at least bring it inside!
My husband loves to hang the eggs on the tree. The first year we were married I found a German Easter Egg kit to dye eggs with. We searched and searched for white eggs since the grocery stores here only carry brown. Eventually, we found some lighter colored ones and after carefully blowing them out we spent an afternoon dyeing them.
He had never dyed an egg before, as this is not a British Easter tradition and it was such a delight to watch his sweet face light up as he hovered over his little pile of eggs making sure they changed to just the hue he wanted. That is how it should be, the simple things should never cease to please us!
My husband and I went for a walk on Sunday. Freshly homemade ice-cream cones in hand, melting so fast in the sun it was dribbling down our chins. We headed for the common to stroll down to the pond. We haven’t been to our little hidden oasis yet this year with the hustle and bustle of everything. When we stepped through the undercover of the trees it was just as magical as ever.
The lily pads were open and sparkling in the sun, the baby ducks were paddling around being a bit brave as they explored the pond with their Mama not far behind. It is a very “Wind in the Willows” cove. Kenneth Grahame lived in Buckinghamshire and wrote about Ratty, Badger, Mole and most unforgettably, Toad. All living along the banks of the Thames. I know that this little place is one they would have visited on an adventure, “simply messing about in boats”, or at least enjoying a lovely summer picnic prepared by Ratty.
We stopped to watch the Mama ducks chatter to each other and after finishing our cones we headed back down to a main path. After walking only a few short steps I paused, the ground was crawling underneath me. I bent down to look around and the forest floor was covered with baby toads. They were everywhere, some heading to the pond, some crossing over the path into the woods. They were amazing to watch. Another couple was heading toward us, they looked at us crouching down over the earth like we were crazy and just kept walking. Here they were, walking down a sunlight-dappled wooded path on a dreamlike summer day and they didn’t even stop to take in what was around them.
Life is always hectic, but I endeavour to make sure I take time to breathe; we should all try to do that. Here was a little miracle happening right in front of us, all these minute baby toads making there way out into the world, hopping along on instinct. Will I ever see something like that again? I don’t know, but I do know if I didn’t stop to breathe I would have walked right on down the path just like the couple that passed us. Taking detours every now and then when they present themselves are well worth it.
Yesterday I cut through the wooded path on the Common to meet some friends arriving that morning, who are going to spend their summer travelling around Europe.
As I walked through the woods I turned my iPod down so Vivaldi was no longer drowning out the cars but was instead enhancing the sunlight dappled path marked by chirping birds heralding from every direction. A friendly robin hopped off of his singing branch to walk a few steps with me, biding me farewell before he flew away.
It is these days that you see the magic in the ordinary; drinking it in and letting it wash over you. Things here suddenly seem to change overnight. One day it is damp and rainy and then the next everything is green and vibrant and lush. My little garden has suddenly come to life almost over night, with yellows and pinks and white rainbows of color popping out everywhere.
The Common is a little oasis in the middle of town. Walking down the path you are suddenly surrounded by the arms of the trees. The forest envelops you and you no longer think you are in a village. There is a magic to these woods. A place you would have pretended to be Robin Hood in as a child, brandishing your bow to a quivering tree. You can imagine the highwaymen hiding in the thick of the bushes, waiting for the coaches headed to Oxford or coming to London.
There are two ponds on the Common; one is more enchanting than the other. It is hidden away and only slightly visible from the road. A very entertaining family of ducks live there and if you are quiet enough you might be lucky to have a Muntjac cross your path in the coolness of the forest. The Common asks only one thing in return of you, to stick to the “countryside code”, leave nothing behind but your footprints. In a time where people seem more and more to have a need for instant gratification, leaving only our footprints is something to strive for. What would your footprints say about you?
As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “the best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you”. These are the simple things, the magic of ordinary days.