It was a dark, terrifying place a fair walk away from the house in Donegal. My brother used to go there for an adventure. I never went, and perhaps for that reason, it became even wilder in my head. Foolishly I thought if I refused to go there, its skin-tearing brambles, suffocating bracken and dark shadows would stay safely out of reach.
But I learnt a tough lesson when I grew up: you may not want to go there, but the wild woods will, inevitably, come to you. For me they take the form of a disease. For others it’s grief, or depression, or broken relationships, or abuse. I hate, hate those wild woods.
I was reading the brilliant chapter in The Wind in The Willows where mole ventures into the Wild Wood to find Badger. He gets lost but then Rat comes with his pistols and they eventually, accidentally, come upon Badger’s house. At first I thought, we could all do with a Rat in our lives, but then I realised that it was Moley who was the hero. He braved the woods because he was deeply concerned about Badger being lonely.
When you think about it, we can all be brave, concerned Moles or experienced Rats seeking out Badgers.
And, unlike Mole, we’ve all been there before.