On a sunlight-dappled May afternoon, I asked visitors at this small suburban nature reserve to write a postcard to the wood, saying what they most appreciated about it. This is what they wrote….
Dear Sydenham Hill Wood,
Rosette: “There’s nothing like the inner peace that this wood gives me. Birds sing healing symphonies. I’m grateful for nature”.
Bean: “To see all the animals”.
Anon: “Lovely peaceful place to walk. Seems far from the city and the traffic. Important wildlife, plants, trees. We are so lucky”.
Mia: “We love your fresh tree air”.
Anon: “Thank you for being such a haven of green-ness and nature in the hustle and bustle of London. For your birdsong, your flowers, your butterflies and trees. For the friendships made, space to think, and inspiration for changes made. May you continue to thrive for generations to come. Thank you”.
The Raes and Raya: “We like you because: we like squirrels, you have lots of trees which help us breathe, lots of space and wildlife”
Anon: “The light along the old railway line as the sun comes through the trees. Butterflies, birds and bees. Jackdaws calling, woodpeckers drumming, parakeets calling. The cedar of Lebanon – even if it doesn’t really belong in an ancient woodland. Hornbeam trees (I’d never heard of a hornbeam before coming here). The feeling that you could be in the middle of nowhere as soon as you step off the street”.
Liz and John: “We enjoy your lovely fresh air and greenery. This is our first time here but we will be back”.
Anne: “I love the chirping birds on a summer day and all the flowering plants in spring”.
Anon: “You are my sanctuary from the crazy pace of London life. I love to see the dappled light first think in the morning”.
Escander, age 7: “Thank you for making all the oxygen to keep us alive”.
Teddy: “After humans are extinct I hope plants take over the world!!!”.
Anon: “I love how the woods community is really nice. And the animals”.
Matthew: “Thank you for being an oasis and sanctuary from the madness of London life!”
Roger: “It’s the green, not a lime green, but I always think of lime.
Anon: “Your fresh air, delightful mystery, rich history, amazing wildlife and wonder people make my heart smile”.
Iain: “Rare snowfall days. Following the trail of the fox. On pristine ground.”
David: “The owl, the woodpeckers, the foxes and their new cubs. Green calming space. Views over London. Butterflies. Moths. Bats. Flowers. Ferns. Trees. Happy people enjoying your verdant canopy”.
Zoe: “Woodpeckers in the morning, owls at night. Summer wood pigeons, followed by fungi in the autumn. Thank you”
Teddy, age 7: “Dear Wood, when we’re all dead please take over the Earth”