Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 8 July 1916

Sun and rain, coming almost together, have extended the branches and enlarged the leaves in the great woods that spread over many acres beyond our commons. You are housed now in their recesses under dark green roofs through which the eye cannot penetrate; there is a mysterious shaking and rustling by the wind overhead, and this helps to strengthen or inspire the fantasies which in these dim solitudes are created by the mind. Big toadstools which were not there two days ago cluster round the trunk of a decaying beech; the long spindle legs of an insect crawling over the table-like top of one of them are as if they belonged to some new lesser inhabitant of the world, and when the gauze of his wings spreads out and they tremble ever so lightly, a curious process fills this cool enclosure with all kinds of living things.

The verge of the wood brings realities again. A pair of pigeons start up from near the orchard on the far side flying not angularly, like the rooks, but straight and true, going high over the taller elms, showing white and grey and pale purple, now distinct in each part, then all mingled as it were together; there is nothing else quite so beautiful under the sun as the plumage of the larger kind of birds when they are on the wing. In the corner of a near field, which is half of turnips and half of mangold in their now juicy leafage, a group of young birds, scuttering rather than flying, scramble toward the hedge – it is a covey of young partridges. Presently a cock pheasant comes out of the ditch chuckling; and above where he was whole bodies of small gnats play in the shade. They seem to mix, whole parties of hundreds of them, in confusion, and yet as you watch, all appear to assort together in their own groups again.

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Source: Guardian Environment