White Forests

The dark, the dark night-almost-morning that I walk through is my forest. The forests of fairy tale. The forests that Sara Maitland writes about in her book Gossip from the Forest. It is the space I most fear and my nerves jangle as I walk out into it.

This morning it grew white. The snow makes it clean, light, less fearsome. Listening to Our Own Correspondent yesterday morning while doing yoga there was a journalist writing about visiting a backwater town in Russia famous for its copper smelting. An ugly, black industrial eyesore which the winter snow yearly renders beautiful. I watch the flakes fall as I walked, the way they made new the forms that lay on the ground. Discarded cans, bits of rubbish took on new, softened life. Cars, roofs and lamps all became shrouded in white. Everything is softened, all hard-edges gone. And the stillness. Music still thumped out of the Pier Pressure nightclub. You’re the one that I want, yeh, yeh, yeh.. was being pounded out as I trudged past. I could hear them all singing along. Girls, coatless ran out into the snow, flakes catching like gossamer in their hair. The ground was sometimes slippy, sometimes crunchy. Down by the harbour the wind whipped-up. A fish lorry was waiting, its engine humming and two fishing boats were there, lit-up like Christmas.

The dark. I walk it with fear and wonder. The snow added to the wonder. My forest. I remember the forests in Norway. Both in Baerum. Places of escape, of breath, of freedom and of fear. Mystical places, with those high, high trees and the funny, perky-eared squirrels.

A cold morning, chill. My fingers tingled and stung. Even in the pockets. I like to walk and swing my arms. It stabilises me. It stops me falling.

Her auntie fell again, he tells me. Poor love. I remember seeing the woman in the home fall. She couldn’t help herself. That cry, that terror of losing control. And all the paraphernalia of getting her up again. Hoists and joists, straps and levers. Who has all that at home?

Do be careful, he pleads.

A grey-white sky. Rooks break its chill stillness.

Coffee then work.

I wanted to get a pattern for her. I wanted to make something for her. I have the labels. Her name, printed out. No joy. Nothing in the shops. I shall have to search the internet. I like to feel, to see what I am getting. Move with the times. Let it be as it is.

And the disc is going funny. Is that more resistance? Who knows. I could be comic if I let it be so. Who cares?

What are your plans for this wild life?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.