Saturday, 23 October 2010


I wouldn't have thought cutting my hair would take me back to a magical forest so much visited by my family in my childhood - but it did!

Generally, I've had long hair since I was young, when outdoors it is easy to tie back and when cold it's nice to have it down. Still, it is never a bad thing to try something new and scissors easily achieved that!

Afterwards, I was thinking about my earliest memories and a lot of wonderful times were had at a loch I used to visit with my family and our much loved wee dog. It's a 'secret' place which can't be seen from any road and to reach it, the path begins as a dark muddy track which passes under tall trees.

Exploring through this shady wonderland - when the woodland path turns upwards, the track is no longer muddy but opens out to pass through a beautiful forest. Given over to nature, if ever there was an enchanted forest lived in by fairy folk - then this is the place. Not having visited for ten years, I made my way back and (even in the rain) I found the woods and loch to be as beautiful as I had remembered, if maybe a little quieter...

Now without - songs sung whilst walking, young voices raised in excitment and without the sound of family laughter.  Plus, the odd bark from my Jack Russell dog - just to let the Rabbits and Roe Deer know that he was visiting their home for a few magical hours, as we would do in all weathers, across the seasons.

Our day out, quickly prepared for with plastic boxes filled with tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches, some bottles of made up juice, a flask of tea for mum and dad and of course, the dog too was never forgotten! Fresh drinking water (tho' when hot, he would ocassionally drink from puddles and always be chased for that!).

Most importantly, an old towel would go with us for the dog (which so often would return absolutely filfthy!) And us? Well, dad always tried to keep the car clean and each trip he'd tell us we'd brought back all the mud in the place or half the beach. Quite probably he was right but we'd all just laugh - these 'adventures' were far too exciting to bother about a bit of mud or sand (and dad would have agreed). 

[Thanks mum and dad!]
Looking back at my recent photographs, naming one "The Enchanted Forest" - I saw this poem just flow out of me to write itself. But then, although the years can rush by us, our strongest and most treasured childhood memories are never forgotten for it is these which set us off on our journey thro' life.  

Remembering our last trip there in 2000, when I graduated with a MBA and we were looking for somewhere scenic and family orientated to take photos - I had stopped our walk that day to take another picture. The sun had been streaming through the trees creating a beautiful warm light. Me and mum were blethering away as usual and dad had wandered on a bit ahead but we called him back. Not being the 'openly romantic' type this was only a few of the shots I ever got of mum and dad together and it was at this place, in 2010, I stopped again. The summer was long gone, the reddy brown leaves from the beech trees lay scattered on the ground and I thought how much my folks would have loved to have seen this Autumnal scene. For me, I took a photo to be able to remember the magical feeling I had again in that special place. Perhaps, just a feeling reflected back from so many happy family memories created in this 'enchanted forest'.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted forest of memories,
As a child I knew you first.
In Spring, I’d gather Snowdrops,
When through the snow they burst.
In Summer, bright yellow Daffodils,
Spread out across the forest floor.
And air, with Bluebells scented,
Violets, Rhododendrons and more.

 Hot summer days, playing by the loch,
Gave way to Autumn's glory.
Cygnets flew off. Grey lag geese flew in,
Mother nature’s changing story.
Then Winter days, at last arrived,
Jack Frost painted your frozen canvas.
Enchanted forest, it’s then you slept,
In the cycle, of Life and Harvest.

Childhood memories, they warm the heart,
Those days, that will never be forgotten.
Muddy boots, that messed the car,
Mum’s laughter at poor Dad’s complaining.
Weekend trips, to coast and country,
Running free, my dog with me for company.
So many outings, that all blur to be,
The childhood days which did make me.

                                             23.10.10, Shona McMillan ©

How seldom we can ever judge the final value to be placed on a photograph, at the time that we take it. For, it is only through the passage of time and the ouctome of life's events that something as simple as an ordinary day on a happy family walk through a woodland can later become one of our most treasured memories.

All Words and Images,
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved
In 'my enchanted forest' - perhaps I can make a wish that all people would not turn away from being photographed. Because, when we look back on a life that is gone, it is ALL the photographs of loved ones which become our most treasured possessions. When people turn away from a camera (and say they don't like getting their photo taken) then a large part of a memory has forever just been lost...

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