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A Sunken Lane

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One place I like to go is a pathway that dips under trees into a wide furrow. It is a world of itself, separate from the open woodland and fields that surround it. In winter it is often wet and boggy underfoot, with rivulets of muddy water, and it is difficult to pass through without wellington boots.But today when I went there, though the going was soft, it was passable. On cloudy days in summer, and for much of the winter, only a little light penetrates even when the leaves are off the trees. But today the Sun was out and bright shafts of sunlight cast a clear liquid glow through the gaps and dappled the leaves overhead with flickers of dancing green.

Then The Spirit of the Place seems to hide, not furtively but withdrawn back to his element of dampness and shadows. I sense him watching, not unhappy but making a natural retreat from penetrating sunbeams, from the glitter in the leaves. At other times when I walk through and linger, savouring the presence of an intense gloom it seems that I am in a semblance of the Underworld, somewhere far removed even from the thin light of a December afternoon.

But not today as the Sun streams down the hillside and filters through the mesh of hazel, thorn and briar and down into the deep trough of the lane, leaking like rainwater into the pits and runnels of the ground where, for a brief season of midsummer, grass can grow. And I can go confidently through with a light step, not thinking that the slough of the floor will prevent me. So the Spirit watches as I go and I acknowledge him, shifting sideways to a shady spot before stepping back into a pool of light, and on towards the shining portal of the opening where the path rises again onto the open hillside.

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