I've taken to walking in the woods recently. At the end of the path, where the trees are thickest and the leaf mould soft underfoot, is a place I've come to think of as the Gate of the Wood.
An ancient stone stile in a tumbledown wall, a wooden one beyond, and beyond that, a sunlit pasture - straight out of Claude Lorrain - with sheep and grass sloping down to a hidden stream.
Just back from the wall, two beech trees overlook the stile. They're like a man and a woman, like a pair of lovers, bound by an ancient spell.
He stands to the right of the path - firm, sombre and upright. Some of his lower boughs are no more than stumps. Wiry tendrils run in clusters up a straight broad trunk that rises to support a half-hidden crown.
She is altogether lighter and more lively - her slender body clad in spirals of smooth grey bark, undulating like the drapery in a renaissance drawing. Leaning to one side, arms lifted to a canopy of leaves, she is like a dancer caught between rootedness and flight.
This is as far as I walk. I stand and look at the way the light from the field touches the two trees, their bark, their curving roots and the path that threads its way between them. Then I turn back into the shadow of the wood and start the long walk home.