The Huntress

She walked towards the opening of the forest. Pine trees in the deepest of green towered above her and a cool breeze rustled the branches. ‘Mother Nature at her finest’ she thought to herself as she powerfully strode on.

She was on a mission, she had to find it. The rest of nature could wait. Though tempting as it was to run through the bracken underfoot and kick the leaves into the air like a six year old, spewing them up like a fountain. As she walked deeper into the forest the air hung, musty and scented. It reminded her of the pine toilet freshener her Mum had used many years ago, before ‘ocean breeze’ and ‘morning dew’ had been invented. She shuddered at the coolness of the early morning fog that crept round the trunks of the trees, almost whispering to her. The paths forked, each time taking her deeper and deeper into the dark forest. The map in her hand was starting to wilt with the dampness of the air and falling debris from the trees. A left, then a right, then another left, then straight on for 100 metres before taking the right hand fork. Had she just taken the left or was this the right? Now she was lost. She had no sense of direction and one tree looked very much the same as another. The blue mark on the tree left by the paintballers should have been an indication of where she had been but there were so many, red, blue and white splats that it was hard to tell. She despised the paintballers as they were so destructive, not only did they leave paint on all the trees and undergrowth but they had no sense of caring for the environment. It was just a rat run for what she deemed a seeming less big boys game. How anyone took pleasure in shooting someone else when there was so much beauty abound was beyond her.  She only hoped they had not trodden on what she was hunting for. Up ahead she heard a rustling and stopped dead in her tracks, hoping not to draw attention to herself. She could do without any unwanted visitors on this trip. A twig snapped beneath her feet and nearly sent her off balance. If she could find it so could they and she couldn’t afford for that to happen. This “gold” was hers, no one else. She had waited a long time for it and today she was going to find it. Carefully she placed one foot in front of the other, steadying herself on any tree or bracken tall enough to withstand her weight. Quietly she moved towards her goal, the other side of the woods. Stealthily crouching down to avoid detection, she could hear voices in the distance which made her quicken her pace. The damp feeling down the back of her neck made her shiver, she wasn’t sure if it was sweat or dew from the morning mist, either way this was a race, she had to get there before the sun rose.

And there it was in the distance, Orchis purpurea, Lady Orchid in all its glory. She moved closer, now the chatting had subsided and she had the perfect view. Its shrouded head umbrellaing the outstretched white tendrils, dotted with purple, giving it an evil tinge. It was spectacular and just how her Grandad had described it, the pencil drawing she had saved from when he had told her tales about this flower many years ago really didn’t do it justice, his dying wish had been for her to see one. He had regaled stories, each one skilfully weaving the Lady Orchid into each one. Sometimes it had magical powers, sometimes it was the healer but sometimes it was evil.  Emily loved listening to them and so had travelled far and wide to catch a glimpse and finally she had achieved it. Standing a good 35cm high, the flower section standing proud like a rocket, above the chalky grassland of the edge of the wood. A spectacle to behold.

Grabbing her camera and checking the light, she snapped it, five, six, seven times. She had to get the perfect picture, one that really did it justice. Close up, distance, individual ladies that captured the essence of the flower. There was no second chances with this, she had to get it right first time.

As the mail splattered onto the mat with force, sending the flap into un upright position, Emily spied a long white envelope. Honing in on the letter, disregarding the rest, she tore the white flap open with haste.

“Congratulations you have won first prize in the Forestry Journal magazine photo competition.”

Her Grandad would be proud.



Thanks to Jean Tosti for use of this photo


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