Updated: Apr 24
“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it, if it were not the earth where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass, the same hips and haws on the autumn hedgerows, the same redbreasts that we used to call ‘God’s birds’ because they did no harm to the precious crops. What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known and loved because it is known?”
A footstep of swelling flowers A green face made of leaves A steady step from behind
Mud churned into architectural clumps There is enough fish to go round
Look after the soil and it will look after you
Adair woke up. His eyes immediately alive to the world, open and focussed on the clear sky out of his window. The sight of warm sun through cold glass. Every night before falling asleep he would make sure his curtains were open in order to catch every minute of light, there was never enough of it to do all the nothing he wanted. Out of the window, from the comfort of his bed, he could see a rowan tree sat in the garden. A humble tree, overshadowed by its grander cousins. The leaves arrived early in the spring reminding others it was time to start producing green. The tree would soon be covered in rowan berries for his mum to turn into jam, it would take around five bags of sugar to make the mixture edible.
Early spring light held the remanence of winter, but the salubrious warmth pierced with a fine needle-like prick, into the lugubrious earth. Finally, he thought, stretching out like a cat, I can wake up to a good drenching of sun. Most days Adair would see the dawn before the rest of the world, even in the dead of winter he would howl, dog-like, out of the window to wake up the birds. His parents had no need for an alarm clock, even so, they had hoped this stage would have passed, but the morning call only grew stronger and more enthusiastic. His dad had now even started responding to the howl with a call of his own.
Keeps you young
What about next door?
Is it wrong to use a muzzle?
It was April. Up came the growing green coils, shoots of plants allowed through by the deep, dark soil. Swinging his legs out from under his duvet he hovered his toes above the ground for a moment or two, knowing that as soon as his feet dropped the day would start.
Toes touch floor and out the door.
The preparations for school started with a splashing of the face, a song sung to the plants dotted along the staircase and a poke in his mums face to wake her up. Then he would sit down to the breakfast table to eat a toasted bagel covered in marmite, twice.
Mum what is marmite made of?
Yeast I think, oh and Black Shucks blood.
It doesn’t say that on the jar.
Well they wouldn’t sell any if it did.
The last thing to do before leaving the house was getting dressed. This was an efficient process, in true hunter-gatherer style he would sniff out the nearest garment. Today, he had chosen to wear a very large black t-shirt belonging to his Dad. The t-shirt had the words ‘art critic’ written in lower case across the front in peeling white. He tucked this t-shirt into a pair of faded blue jeans which were laminated with mud, paint and tea stains. His Mum remarked to his Dad that he looked like he belonged in Dazed and Confused, his Dad looked down at his son with pride.
The mid-week mornings were usually chaotic, but this particular morning had started with an unexpected smoothness. By this time Adair would normally be flying around the house like a trapped bird, his mother would be attempting to collect herself for her ‘serious’ job with litres of coffee and his father would roll out of bed, lie in the bath for half-an-hour listening to Bob Dylan, then sit outside the front door tapping his feet, waiting to walk Adair to school. His mother never seemed to like his father much in the morning.
His Dad was a ceramicist and therefore worked from home, his sculptures, pots, bowls, mugs and jars were all in some way shaped like naked humans or animals, who were obviously naked too. Entering his workshop, you would see curving bottoms, twisting lower backs, napes of necks stretching up towards the sun, fishes, badgers and pigs. Fresh, wet, muddy clay was stacked in bags ready to be transformed and fired in the kiln. He loved his work, loved the tactility, the tangible results and the joy of the created creatures. He touched and handled to perceive the world, he dreamt of artists, Picasso in Vallauris, Matisse in Nice. The highlight of his day, aside from the slopping, moulding, spinning, pressing, cupping, pinching, stopping, firing and painting of clay, was walking his boy to school.
As he sat on the doorstep listening to the scramble for shoes, he felt the apricity of the nascent spring sun covering his face. Sitting back and listening, he couldn’t help but tune into a noise which interrupted the reverie. From inside The Patchwork Wood he could hear a grunting, in fact it was quite a powerful collection of grunts; these were the grunts, he thought with a little humour, of a pig.
Inside the Patchwork woods,
A number of noises are heard.
Most ordinary beings would,
be spooked and deterred.
The fact rivers and streams seldom flow in straight lines is a gift of beauty
Adair was close to leaving the house on time, but was now rushing trying to find the socks which should have been underneath his shoes. His mother asked how he had forgotten them.
More important things on my mind.
He climbed the stairs in search of the absent pair, but stopped halfway up. He had spotted a notebook, which had been dropped and was open for reading. He picked it up. It was his mothers. He read the words which were written neatly on the lined paper.
From the earliest age we must learn to say goodbye to friends and family. We see them off at stations, schools, and airports. It is part of the human experience to grip someone by the shoulder and wish them well. Eventually some people come to hold their dearest possessions more closely than they hold their friends. Carrying them from place to place, often at expense and inconvenience. They dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly with them – all the while allowing themselves to invest them with greater and greater importance. Most days I have to say goodbye to Robert and Adair, I know they can’t be kept in a box or a secret drawer, but every time I do, I worry a little they might not come back.
Adair chuckled imagining himself being kept in a secret drawer and being brought out for special occasions. He didn’t understand the note entirely, he definitely didn’t know what the word ‘reprimand’ meant, however he did enjoy his starring role. He put the notebook down on the step where he had found it, pulled his socks on, then his shoes and headed downstairs towards the doorway. Just before he left the house, his mother leaned down and gave him an enveloping hug and told him to have a beautiful day. Adair usually blew a raspberry in her ear or pretended to be a chicken, but today he gripped his Mums shoulder.
I wish you well.
Adair, did you just say I wish you well?
Yes, you’ve got ears, haven’t you? Bye.
He slapped his Dad on the back and the two headed down the hill away from the house and towards the town. His mum watched the two go, then unlocked the car which would take her to her office. A couple of Brags watched the two from the woodland, they chanted a song under their breaths.
They walk the same walk,
The same walk, the same time
Around 9, the sun inclined
The day climbing a vine.
Two sets of feet make four,
Door and back to door,
We seek the change they seek,
A blackthorn blossom, trees with moss on.
They walk the same walk every day,
They walk the same time.
The days feel the same,
Almost as if they rhyme.
Unaware of the song behind them, the two walked. They listened to the sounds of the birds. Adair’s father had learnt from his father the names that the noises came from.
Here that. That is a blackcap. An idiosyncratic vocalist, the Thom Yorke of the bird world.
There listen. That is the Beethoven of the birds. Sounds like a flute doesn’t it. A blackbird.
Sounds like your mother. A woodlark. Don’t tell her I said that.
Adair admired his Father, not for his knowledge of bird calls, but for his unusually bold strides and his large feet. Beetle-scrunchers he called them. He watched the feet pounding along the pavement and tried to keep to the same tempo, but always found himself falling behind. Adair thought of all the tracks they had left behind making this walk from home to school. They left tracks like animals. In snow, in mud, in dust and in grass, but of course, the tracks stop once they reach the pavements of the town, the clattering of thousands of feet a day leaving nothing behind. Adair’s father looked down at the pathway too. The path which they walked each day. He wondered if it was humans who followed paths, or paths who followed humans and how each day, brought the covering and an uncovering of these tracks. He thought about how they will remember this place and how will it remember them, compacted into the ground. The paths of thoughts and the walking of paths both ultimately lead to stories.
Dad when did you choose to play with clay all day?
When I realised I wasn’t good at anything else Adair.
Do you think Mum wishes she played with clay all day?
She does something much more important, she designs buildings.
I see. Why is a building more important than a pot or a mug?
Well, you can provide people shelter and a home, they can be beautiful and they can shape how we see the world. Oh, and they can bring people together under one roof.
Yeh but try pouring tea into a building.
The rocky path led to some steps which took the two through a snicket, a snicket which brought them into the town. Their steps sounded like the opening of a song lurking from background to foreground. The houses mirrored each other on both sides of the street, the pavement was divided neatly into squares and the road was busy with rush hour traffic. Adair spotted the Costa across the road and thought about the gargantuan mocha he would drink after school, he licked his lips. Town noises started changing, slipping back into the modern world. The sound of birds and the ghosts of the countryside were altered into the conversation of people, the opening and shutting of doors and the repeated bleating of pedestrian crossings. Adair admired the wide assortment of shoes on offer and the fine collection of walks which the people of the town exhibited. Tall, agitated businessmen rushing to catch the last train to London, old men completing their morning route with the detached air of a somnambulist and young girls around Adair’s age exuberantly pulling their parent towards school.
Well there isn’t much point listening to the news anymore is there
Your shirt is tucked into your underwear Peter Shitty shit shit it all
Supposed to be getting warmer this week Still alive
The school was close to the town centre, walk down a side-street until you reached some gates and there you are. Above the gates was a sign: Leighfield Primary School. Adair stopped in his tracks and lifted his head up to the morning sun, his face and his bear-like brown hair was dressed in light.
What are you doing Adair?
Oh. I’m sunstalling.
Sunstalling. You know.
I’m afraid I don’t.
It is when you put off doing what’s next until the next cloud comes.
Where did you here that?
Made it up. Good huh? There’s the cloud.
The shade resumed his day, but dropping Adair off at school was not the easiest of tasks. He is a sensitive child and a little different too much of the class. Adair knew his time away from home wasn’t going to be simple, he wasn’t prepared to lose his eccentricities, in fact to him they seemed perfectly normal. It wasn’t necessarily that Adair was bullied, but there was a growing discomfort at the fact his friends were becoming socially aware. They had reached two digits, the heady heights of ten and eleven and were starting to care about the colour of shoes and the fact Tom had an iPhone, an iPhone which was paraded like a religious icon. In a change which Adair was struggling to understand, running around pretending to be The Green Man or Father time was rapidly becoming uncool. His clothes had also become figures of fun, but Adair was unceasingly himself and was happy in the company of a couple of outlaws. His best friend Lily and her friend Mus. His Dad watched Adair striding towards the school looking like a CND protestor, when the boy had disappeared through the doors, he turned around and headed back through the town.
Adair’s day went a little like this:
9am: Reach school. Forget which door classroom is, peer through window of multiple classrooms. Spot teacher. Enter classroom. Told off for being late.
9 30am: Assembly about being grateful, something about jet-planes meeting in the air to be refuelled, lose concentration and stare at a jackdaw out of the window.
10am: Laugh with Lily about a drawing of an ant she did. That takes about ten minutes. Mus joins in. Forget what lesson we are in. Geography. Learn about the River Danube. Quite cool. Granny has been on a cruise there.
10 45am: Told off for drawing an army of ants on Lily’s top. Protest. Unsuccessfully. Told it is time to grow up.
11 15am: Lily pretends to be Hengest. I pretend to be Horsa. Build fort under the willow tree. Try to create bow and arrow to fire at Tom. Make friends with a worm. Forget about bow and arrow.
12am: Math. WHAT ARE THESE MARKS ON THE PAGE. Divide symbol looks like a bird.
12 30am: Joe says my t-shirt is stupid. Tom calls me a hairy hippo or was it a hippy? Probably hippy.
1 30am: Lunch. Packed. Mum made me a flapjack. Hey Zeus it was good. Give Lily a quarter.
2am: Sport being played. Football. I can run pretty damn fast with the ball, but lose interest and often find myself in the wrong position. Football coach tells me to wear the same coloured socks. I tell him I dress for utility not fashion.
3am: Last half-an-hour. Quite tired now. History. Learning about the Suffragettes. Lily looks happy so I am too.
3 45am: Picked up by Dad.
How was your day Adair?
It wasn’t complete bollocks.
What would your mum say?
It wasn’t utter bollocks.
The entrance to their home was scattered with plants. Terracotta pots, plastic buckets, concrete troughs, old watering cans and any other object which could be filled with soil. Some were for eating and some for looking. Seeds were planted haphazardly, forgotten and then remembered when they rose out of the ground demanding attention. The house was brick, its face white, the tiles orange.
The house normally smelt of toast, he followed the scent. The house was bought by his parents when owning a home was possible. The interior matched the garden, old books were shelves for new books, paintings and posters were wallpaper, wine bottles were candle holders and plug extension cables were a daily set of tripwires to be leapt. You were never far from a half-finished mug of tea, a bannister draped with coats and a cricket bat being saturated in linseed oil. Each room took on the mood of the hand that painted it, ocean blue, blood red, butter yellow. Tables were a cacophony of things, a bumpy quilt of magazines, pots of Marmite, cardboard from Amazon boxes, sellotape which only his mum’s nails could unlock, books dropped mid-sentence, old candles with the wick buried, tissue packets and glasses sticky with fruit juice.
Next to the house were the woods, the damp smell of life and death, co-existing. The woods were given some adult sounding name, but Adair, after a lengthy and sometimes fractious conversation with a troll, agreed that it should be called The Patchwork Wood.
Restless, Adair looked outside at the rain. The clouds moved in quickly and water hit the ground and released the perfume of soil. His mum returned home soaking wet and stressed. Adair offers his mum a cup of tea to her surprise, not that he wouldn’t be so generous, but she wasn’t sure of his capabilities to make a brew. It didn’t seem so difficult.
Pick Mum’s favourite mug, the one with the blue person on it. Boil kettle, the kettle is clicked to start and clicks itself to finish. Find tea bag, in the pot with breasts on, Irish afternoon tea. Tear open tea bag, pour into cup. Boiling water in, touch of milk, present to Mum with broad smile.
Adair did you accidently tear the bag?
No. I did it on purpose.
Great. Thanks Adair.
The rain continued to fall, but Adair was undeterred, it was time to head to The Patchwork Woods. He pulled on his Westerly jacket, bright yellow and terrific at keeping out the water, slipped on his dark green wellington boots, put on a pair of swimming goggles and headed outside.
Adair if it starts raining any harder you come straight back.
His Dad shouted from upstairs.
ADAIR I HEARD PIGS IN THE WOOD EARLIER, LISTEN OUT FOR THE GRUNTS.
The real world starts to recede as you walk into the woods, just before the kissing gate which marks the entrance, there is a barrow. A mound of earth erected over a grave, his Dad says it is from the bronze age. Adair likes to imagine the skeletons buried beneath, warriors guarding the entrance to the wood, guarding the ancientness, pushing up the soil with their remains. The woods make the eyes see, immediately you search the ground, scan the skies and navigate the path opening up before you. He was not indifferent to the distinction in things and the fact a thing today, could become an entirely different thing tomorrow.
The woods are ancient and cryptic, underground windings and capillaries whirring with life, the patient engraining’s of time and growth collecting each day. Adair has sap in his veins.
The rain continued to fall, it blattered, chucked, kelched, wazzed and hooned it down. Pathways became streams and streams became temporary rivers. Imagining he was on a pilgrimage he felt the wet soil in his hand and threw it in the air as an offering to the Gods. His nose, poking out from under his hood, was dripping, but the rain fell softer, sieved by the canopy of the trees. A holloway, draws you into the woods, a path created by feet and lined with spring plants: Horse parsley, greater stitchwort, wood sorrel and the slow growing wood anemone. Adair listens now, in search of the pig, but there appears to be no grunts. Instead, he looks for tracks.
What happens if you look at the picture too long?
Falling deeper and deeper into the woods Adair has spotted a collection of tracks, a foil. The rain slowed to a drizzle which subsided into a mist, a mist which neither rises nor falls, giving the woods an almost oneiric quality, gleaming with the wetness of light and rain. Adair is uninterested in the divine today, usually he sootles, saunters and hops his way through the woods, but today he was spurred on by the tracks. His nose almost touching the ground as he found the imprints of trotters, a collection of trotters. He sniffs the air in hope of picking up the muddy scent of a pig, but soon he starts to think that these are no pigs in these woods. He remembered a caught remark he had heard from a passing troll.
Rumours have been flying around the woods recently that we have some visitors, some visitors from France. They are a collective, a small anarchist commune of boar, in search of a home to live away from what they call ‘the restrictions of the sty’.
Adair was led by the track to a nook. Suddenly he was distracted by a heady waft of fragrance, as if the earth was breathing on him. It smelt, triumphantly, of garlic. Looking down he saw the floor was filled with classical curves and curls of green, beautiful locks which cover the ground like music covers air. He stepped lightly through the scene, watching the painting beginning to move.
Phwoar that smells good Like Pesto pounded by a pestle
Stinky Beasts A little sleepy now
It had been a long day, waking up, eating, schooling and tracking, he couldn’t help but think how comfy the wild garlic looked. The heady aroma made its way up the nose and down to the back of the throat. Drizzle which had turned to mizzle, had now fizzled and the sky had cleared. There were sunbeams making their way through the passages and branches of the trees. Adair lay down, spreading his body, pointing his toes, stretching his fingers, tipping his back and raising his chin to the sky. Eyes shut to the known world and Adair became a dreaming plant. As the boy started to become sated by sleep, the green around him started to move. First, they wriggled, then they started growing, moving upwards like a snake charmed, until they started to curl around Adair’s body. Forming handshakes with each other they moved up around his limbs, securing his body to the earth, fastening him, swallowing him. Soon all that was left of Adair that wasn’t green was his head. He lay there asleep, unaware.
The drizzle stopped and the nook lay still and silent. Adair lay in the middle looking like a sacrifice taken by the forest, eaten and consumed by the green. The light in the forest was ghostly. Eyes were watching him. Grunts. Eyes blinked. Grunts. The shadows became figures and the figures became visible. The figures were a group of wild boars, posturing, physically commanding and plump, wild boars. Three adults, three teenagers, three sows, three boars, all with long brown bear-like fur, well-worn snouts, fat muscular bodies and French accents.
What is this then?
Mademoiselle, I do believe it is the ‘ed of a boy no?
The ‘ed of a boy? What sort of boy would ‘av the infernal impudence to fall asleep ‘ere?
Mademoiselle, let us be kind, open-hearted, the wild garlic can be confortable, no? As you say, ‘Love and do what you will’.
Well I suppose I too ‘av on occasion decided to take a little nap on wild garlic, but anyone could ‘av stumbled upon ‘im.
Come let us wake ‘im from this nap. I am sure the wild garlic was just making him a nice, how you say… coutte? Ah duvet.
The hogs, moved towards the boy buried in the green and using their snouts broke the plants hold. As they did, the powerful garlic aroma was released, Adair’s nose picked up the scent and became alive to the world. He looked around and saw the six animals nuzzling and rooting around his body, their leathery noses tickled him. You would expect a boy of his age to be a little concerned by the sight and the tightness with which a plant was holding him to ground, but he was used to the odd goings on of The Patchwork Woods and instead decided he would introduce himself.
Hello, I am Adair. Do you know why I am tied to the ground by these stinky beasts? And without sounding rude, telling me who you are?
Why ‘ello little man, if you allow us to free you, we will reveal all.
With a minimum of fuss and a maximum of snout the hogs freed Adair and had a little snack in the process. The six animals gathered around the boy, looking neither menacing or intimidating, instead their eyes had a welcoming conviviality, an openness and a readiness to tell their tale.
Thank you very much for that, I must make sure that I am more careful where I tree bathe in the future. Dad says it is very good for your mental health and the Japanese practise it all the time.
No need to apologise Monsieur. Allow me to introduce you to our little community. ‘Ere to my left is Lea and Marion and ‘ere to my right is Maxime, Quentin and my beautiful wife Ophelia.
Adair nodded to each, admiring their robustness, their powerful muscles and their cute fluffy ears. Lea, Marion, Maxime and Quentin were much younger than the two older hogs. Ophelia smiled at her husband before starting to speak.
We, as you ‘av probably noticed, are French. We ‘av made our journey from the woods of the Dordogne to these beautiful woods ‘ere.
She looked Adair in the eyes and continued.
We are a collective of anarchist ‘ogs who wish to start a new life stemming from free agreement, living alongside animals, nature and if possible, humans. We follow the words ov William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Prince Peter Kropotkin. We believe in cooperation, love, mutual aid, nature and the rejection of law and government.
Marion continued. Adair was smiling and enjoying the French accents, the fact pigs were talking and the name Kropotkin.
We do not believe that nature is about competition, we believe it is about collaboration and common good. We believe our message is more prescient now than ever, this time of rampant inequality, environmental destruction and mass disillusionment. We ‘av to remember at these times of crisis, that the fruits of the earth belong equally to us all and the earth itself to nobody.
Marion completed her speech with a flourish of the trotter and looked round to the appreciative nods of her companions.
Well thank you for your lovely introduction, I believe in these woods, hobnobs and my mums leek and potato soup.
The hogs looked at each other, slightly irritated that their speech hadn’t rendered Adair a fierce supporter of their cause, but they did not believe anyone should have to obey commands and therefore did find the recruitment process rather slow.
Come let us show you our little petite utopie.
An onlooker would have been quite surprised by the scene, six hogs and a young boy walking in unison through the woods. They walked parallel to the river which dissected the woods and cut the path to follow. The river provided a slow, tinkling soundtrack to their walk. It was bordered by young, attractive birches and recently bloomed wild geraniums, small and bursting purple out of the green. Adair enjoyed the company of the animals, they talked to him honestly, they never interrupted each other and stopped for multiple snack breaks. They did sometimes struggle for direction as no-one took a lead, but soon enough they found their way to what they called ‘Pigletarian Anarchist Union’.
The area was neatly organised, there were communal trowels with seats alongside, functional and symmetrical mud huts in the style of ‘Rootalism’ and a thriving vegetable bed which Quentin tended to. The plants want to grow, you just have to let them. Each hog had a job to be getting on with and did so with care and attention, Adair offered to help Marion with some foraging. They searched the ground and sniffed the air for signs of food, before coming across a cluster of mushrooms growing out of a large oak tree. You wouldn’t be sure they were mushrooms, they looked like giants’ ears folding over each other or layers of rock compressed and burst open.
Chicken of the woods.
Said Marion in awe.
We shall eat well tonight Monsieur.
The two headed back to the hog’s home and as Lea and Maxime prepared dinner, the others sat around the fire. Maxime was preparing the mushrooms, toasting them in a pan, then adding wild thyme and a little water. The smell was nutty with a hint of toast. Ophelia turned to Adair and placed her trotter on her husbands’ leg.
So, Adair what do you make of our petite maison?
It is very nice. Much better kept than the trolls lair. It seems very unfair that pigs are always seen to be untidy and disorganised.
I would quite agree Adair – you are a very clever young man. I ‘av every reason to believe you ‘av a bright future in front of you, but listen Adair we ‘av a tale to tell you. We also ‘ere to spread a message, a warning, for there are nefarious forces in the world at the moment. We ‘av reason to believe that these woods are under threat, the same threat which destroyed our home in France.
Adair was immediately concerned; a wave of anxiety tightened his limbs.
Adair we ‘av heard rumours that there are plans to clear the woods for a new trainline.
Why would they do that?
Once more, and I ‘av seen this again and again, we are seeing the tragedy of the commons. Imagine Adair a small village, what do you call it, an ‘amlet. This ‘amlet ‘as a pond, a pond which is perfectly sized to feed all three ‘ouseholds who live there. The pond ‘as a dozen fish, and for every two fish, there will be a new baby each night. This is the wonder of procreation, which I am sure your mother ‘as told you all about.
If the three men just keep to taking one fish each night, the pond will be restocked by the morning, they will ‘av all eaten a delicious, nutritious meal, probably with some fennel and potatoes. Voila, perfect as we say, ‘armony.
‘Owever, if one greedy fisherman decides ‘is family deserves more fish than the others, then the whole system falls apart. If one too many fish is taken, then whoosh, the number of reproductive pairs drops and the population drops. Eventually, sadly, all the fish in the pond will be gone. Eradicated. Extinct. Then, every villager even the greedy one is left with nothing, nada, rien.
You see, greed, self-interest and the destruction of this beautiful world we ‘av been given, ends badly for everyone. Optimising for the self in the short term, is not good for anyone in the long term. You see getting rid of these woods, or even a section of these woods, may bring rewards for a few, but in the end, it would mean loss for us all.
The threat has not arrived at this wood yet, but it is coming, if we don’t protect it.
Scratching his head and furrowing his brow, Adair looked at the woods around him. A home for animals, insects, creatures real and imagined, magical and mundane, a home for plants, flowers, rivers, roots, broken branches and old majestic trees. He looked at the hogs, ancient creatures, archaic and honest. With a tone of desperation which Adair was not used to hearing in his own voice he asked.
I love this wood. How can we live with it?
I cannot claim to ‘av all the answers Adair, I am just an ‘og, but I do know the natural world can be lived alongside, protected and cared for. We need to be able to adapt to the earth beneath our feet and treat it as we would for our own mother. You can best serve civilisation by being against what usually passes for it.
The chicken of the woods was served on a large round oak log. Food was eaten, stories were told, the conversation hummed well through afternoon, but soon the owl-light of the evening fell upon the woods and the glimmering sunlight signalled to Adair it was time that he left for home. Turning around he waved goodbye to the hogs and shouted ‘au revoir’ in his best French accent. The hogs responded with a communal grunt and returned to their jobs.
Walking home Adair tried to put words together like a jigsaw, he tried to understand what Ophelia had told him and thought about the distant threat to the woods getting nearer each day. His mood was not striding with its usual vitality, but on looking up at the trees above his head his walk gained a little more purpose. The rowan tree sat in the near darkness, its leaves gleamed with phosphorescence under the moons light and the wind murmured gentle susurrations.
On returning home, Adair took off his westerly jacket, his boots and his swimming goggles which had been put to good use. His mum greeted him with a towel and scrubbed his brown bear-like hair and told him to go jump in the bath which she had run for him, he smiled and took the towel with him up the stairs.
His Dad met him at the top of the stairs bearing a gift. It was a sculpture fresh from the kiln, burnt orange, containing all the energy of the fire which had frozen it. It was a sculpture of a pig.