Trees that look like monsters

Up on the hill, there are trees that look like monsters. As in The Gruffalo, ‘with terrible tusks, and terrible claws. And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws’.

The gateway to the hill is like a time portal into a land that exists only in my imagination.

This is the place where trees have gnarly feet and hands. One of them, a rather streetwise beech, even gives me a thumbs-up as I walk by.

It’s early, not long past seven o’clock. There’s not a human soul in sight. But plenty of woodland spirits and sprites, for sure.

There are trees with handy water wells within their trunk (for the dryads perhaps ?) and bright beech trunks thrown into the spotlight by the morning sun.

Tall trunks arch like the pillars in a cathedral nave, with feathered fan vaulting, leading up to the altar at the top with its glorious view.

A fairy swing swirls on one of the twin pines that overlooks the Vale, and then Golden Cap – the highest point on the south coast – and then the sea.

The dog and I march like Roman soldiers along the top of the hill to the broken, metal fence, past rope swings sodden with overnight rain.

And the sleeping giant that is Pilsdon Pen slumbers soundly on the other side of the wood.

Down the hill now and we are followed by curious cattle. A trillion raindrops on grass gone to seed transforms the land into a field of diamonds. And then the sheep look up, see us and head for the hills.

Back in the village, a lorry with a load of straw bales passes by, scraping under the branches of trees, giving the roadside fringes along its edges. And up on the green, the gardener is hard at work, his lawnmower going full pelt. Children hold their parents’ hands as they walk to school.

The spell is broken. Back to life, back to reality.

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