Photo Story | Woodland Creatures

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Lucy Ridges and I headed out into the Peak District to use each other as models/tripods with the aim of creating beautiful autumnal imagery. I've already shared a couple of my favourite photographs from this day in my previous post, but there were so many photos that I wanted to share that I thought I'd create a story based around them. So here it is, something completely different from my usual posts; a collection of images and a short story to accompany them. Let me know your thoughts.

Deep in the woods, on a day that wasn't quite autumn but was far from summer, a girl wandered through the woods collecting branches to take home. She wanted to bring her beloved forest into her home, so that she was among the greenery and foliage even when she had to be inside. As she wandered, her hands and pockets full of twigs and ferns, she stumbled upon a pond that she had never seen before.

Surrounded by weeping willows and filled with lily pads, the still water of the pond perfectly reflected the greenery of the forest that she loved so dearly. Inching closer to the water, she leaned over to study her reflection, taking care not to topple into the pond. Strange, she thought; her reflection danced upon the still water, looking wilder and more ethereal than she had appeared in the mirror that morning.

As her reflection continued to dance, a second girl pirouetted into the pond, and she realised that this was no reflection that she was gazing at. Leaning closer to get a better look, she lost her footing and tumbled head first into the water. 

Finding herself in a pile on the forest floor, a tangle of limbs among the ferns and lichen, she rubbed her eyes and clambered up. Was she in the same place as before? The light had a green tinge to it, almost as if she was under the surface of the pond itself.

But the pond was right there! And beside it, the girl from her reflection, the one who looked so similar to herself, stood gazing into the distance. Two giant ferns were attached to her arms, almost like wings, and her hair flowed wild and free. This wild creature danced and twirled on the water's edge, singing a song in a language that she had never heard before. 

Our girl stepped forward to greet her, but upon noticing her sudden movement, the stranger gasped and fled into the trees. 

Our girl followed the stranger, ducking beneath branches and sweeping leaves out of her face as she ran. She ran in a straight line, the trees a green blur as she raced, but somehow she ended back at the pond. Puzzled (she had ran completely straight, it was impossible that she had returned to her starting point!), she span around in a circle, catching a glimpse of the stranger in the trees right behind her. 

Her lookalike was now stood with another girl, a redhead. They were chanting in a strange language, gazing up at the trees. Elegant antlers sprouted out of their heads, their messy hair tangling up with their handsome horns. Now she understood; she had found her way to another realm and these were the hedge witches that she had grown up reading about.

Now, she knew not to be afraid and understood that she was being treated to a glimpse of the forest that nobody else sees. Silently, so as not to disturb the hedge witches, she lent against a tree and watched them dance and chant and interact with the landscape that surrounded them all.

She wasn't sure how long she stayed there for. Time moved differently in this place, and although it felt like days had passed, she was somehow sure that it had been mere minutes back in her world.

When the hedge witches faded away into the trees, she felt that it was time to leave and turned to face the pond. Sure she was making the right decision, she teetered on the edge, ready to leap back into the water. But she needed to take a memento from this realm, to prove that her experience was real. At the edge of the pond, she noticed a patch of tiny ferns, all shimmering with their own light. She had never seen ferns quite like these luminescent finds back home, so she tucked one inside the pocket of her dress just before she fell forwards into the water.

Opening her eyes, she was sure that she was home. She was crouched on the floor by the side of the pond and the ethereal green tint to the light had vanished. In the distance, she heard car horns and the distinctive rumble of a plane flying overhead, signalling that indeed her time in the magical land was over.

Was it a dream? She reached into her pocket and pulled out a tiny fern. Cradling it in the palm of her hands, she knowingly admired its faint glow. This was no ordinary fern, and this had been no ordinary stroll in the woods.

Walking home, she hummed the tune that she had heard the hedge witches sing, taking the time to caress the leaves and the ferns that she passed by.


Photos of me by Lucy Ridges

All other photos + words my own

I'm wearing a Toast linen dress. Lucy's dress is vintage.