Coldfall Wood. Cold January

Coldfall Wood. Cold January 2014

You can just about park and freely outside the Creighton Road entrance to the wood in Muswell Hill, North London. Today the forecast was periodic sunshine with increasing heavy showers of rain. It bucketed down but we three friends met to enjoy the ancient and empty Coldfall Wood. We stood under one umbrella by a lonely bench and drank hot soup . Wet, wet, wet it was. We enjoyed seeing the brooks and the newly made Wetlands bit which looks as though a brook has burst its banks: The walkway over it is ace. We looked about Barrenger Road and checked out the construction site set up to build an eco-house. All the houses on Coldfall Estate N10 were council-owned pre Thatcher. Today the Estate is deadly quiet as it was way back in no private cars 1950. Some houses are pink and some yellow; some still retain the grey picket fences, and the red front door steps, the pride of the housewife. There are padlocked gates in alleyways and a padlocked turnstile into the Muswell Hill Playing Fields. It is that quiet that in Creighton Avenue at 1.30pm we could hear the joyful screeches of primary school pupils at Coldfall School along Everington Road and the crows were louder than east London ones. The grey squirrels had yellow tinges in their rat-fur.

Three  Sisters Drinking Tea by Lovers’ Lawn in Ancient Coldfall Wood in January in the Pelting Rain.

Sliding mud, scraping mud

Chilled to the bone our toes.

One sister wore her  boots

Clumpy dregs adorned with the dried mud

And yellow clay of her Chingford allotment

Sensible coverings for a lookabout in an ancient wood.

The cold bit our hands.

In the great green trunked trees, the high-up crows were affronted.

Intruders we were bold in their space. They flapped.

They jumped to different levels

They cawed and soared and the squirrels tame as you like

Busy in their foraging, started.

The creatures heard our breathing yet we hardly crackled the bracken.

The rain had sodden through, seeped through dead leaves and coppiced twigs.

All was mush.

The earth was sprung.

We were buoyant

Despite the drip and the gush and the splatter

Of the splish splosh

Pitter patter

Deluge of wetness.

We gripped the wooden sides of a bridge

Over a stagnant green wetland

We searched for a  bench or a customised log

Near the flat and memory of Lovers’ Lawn

Our hoods were sodden.

One sister placed down the thermos, another the rolls,

A bounding childish dog sniffed his muzzled jaw up to the food

Ahead of a dog-walker’s apologies

Said in the posh tones of the neighbouring estate.

She went. We laughed and said  What are we like?

Three sisters under one dripping umbrella

supping soup, milking tea,  renewing friendships

in our once local wood.

One said “I’m not nostalgic

I just feel I own it. It was our wood.

Glad we came”.

Outside past the bent wrought iron railings

The cars splashed through gutter pools

Mothers trundling buggies  or on laden bicycles

With precious cargoes plastic wrapped

Waited at the kerbs on pink paving stones.

It was gone 3.30pm on a January afternoon.

More dog-walkers came.

We three sisters kissed goodbye

And went our separate ways.