Woodland winter damp
That aroma of leaf mulch
Rich nature unraked
The girl stepped out from behind a beech tree, her hair a crest of gold. ‘Over that bridge lies forever-winter.’ Icy breath twirled out of her mouth, although she stood in the sunshine. She pointed towards a frosted glade full of broken stalks, clumped grass, and bedraggled seed-heads, all glazed with frost.
‘It’s in the shade, that’s all,’ I said.
‘I dare you to touch that stump in the middle.’
I crossed the stream and crunched over the white, sure I was heading towards the gnarled remains of an ancient alder tree, until it winked, yawned, and swallowed me whole.