Prelude: From a Dark Wood…

kingley vale

View from Bow Hill looking towards Portsmouth © InfoBritain

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
(Dante, Divine Comedy)

One midsummer day in midlife, I found myself in a dark wood. It is a yew forest, nestled into a vale amid the rolling hills of southern England. Cultivated yew trees are usually clipped and trimmed, but in this ancient wildwood the trees spread their branches wide, intertwining with each other and canopying the forest into an arboreal cathedral. Their green shade is cooling and soothing on a warm summer day, while their resinous aroma is gently soporific.

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