A halo-shaped light shines through the trees into the clearing. The way the light filters and dances reminds me of what I’ve read of fairy rings and magic mushrooms. Walking through this forest, one can almost imagine that all the folktales are true: stories of little men and houses hidden in tree stumps. Fairies, maybe, woodland creatures that talk, and animals with magical powers. But then the light shifts and the magic is gone. I am old enough to know it was never there in the first place. There is only a part of me, tiny as a fleck of dust, that wants it to all be true.
Those dreams of childhood that smell of strawberries and cream have dampened with age and cynicism. The air here smells both hearty and fruity, like rhubarb; tartness that all the sugar in the world won’t sweeten.
I look again at the light dissolving. The halo that welcomed me has left. The shadows play alone. I turn to leave. I will never come here again. Not because I can’t, but because, like me, it will never, ever be the same.