23 Jun 2013

Lost in the Forest: Describing Words for a Story in a Forest

What is in a forest?
branches, leaves, tree trunks, bushes, thickets, twigs, fallen branches and logs, leafmould, blackened, wet rotting leaves, mushrooms and fungi, weirdly coloured and rippled, growing from and on trees, like the side of a dinner plate, rust spotted fungi, mushroom on delicate stalks, puffballs (a type of mushroom) like marshmallows, lichen growing, rippled and wet on the north side, mould, moss, mud...


TREES
pine, fir trees - disinfectant smell of sap, sticky needles, brown needles soft underfoot, cones burst like tiny grenades, stiff upright, dark blue-green, blending into darkness above, fat, rippled branches, spreading out like fans, dusted with snow...
redwood - rust coloured bark, soft as cake crumb, striated (ribbed) and folded, into stiff furls like a concertina, vertiginous (i.e. very tall), massive, dwarfed the other trees, dark folds inside where the roots spread out that you could hide a body in, creeping with woodlice...
sycamores - broad leaved spreading, sticky, poisonous sap, nothing grows beneath them, bare earth, mid-green cut leaf, brilliant against the sky, seeds are tiny parachutes, tiny planes, spinning to earth, like brown, wrinkled skin, dry and fine as parchment, crisping underfoot...
oaks - wide trunk, large, old branches sagging to touch the ground and curling up again, like a climbing frame, gnarled, rough, wet with moss, thick trunk spreading out, easy to climb low branches, with rough, hard, grey-brown bark, roots curled or digging into the dirt...
horse chestnut - large racemes of pink and white blossom (in spring), prickly pear-green seed-cases like mines, slashed to reveal soft white inner and a glossy, dark brown chestnut...

BUSHES
rhododendron - thick, glossy, dark green leaves, mid to low height with full, spreading shape, branches will pull back and judder if you run into them. In spring and autumn, flowers are white to deep purple, lavender and lilac through pink, large but not fragrant, dripping with dew, like wet silk, like tissue paper, waxy, large flowers...
Blackberry or 'brambles' - very thick, viciously prickly bushes that spread thickly alongside paths and between trees, with white/pinkish small flowers in Summer and fat, purplish black, beaded, bubbly berries in Autumn, often webbed by spiders.
Holly - deep red berries in October to January, prickly impenetrable bushes with very dark green-black leaves that taper to fine, sharp points...

Flowers (Spring ONLY)
Cyclamen - very small, delicate flowers with flame-like, sweet-smelling pink, lilac blending into white petals, tissue paper, wax flowers, glistening with dew, spreading between the trees, carpeted the forest floor, dotted like points of light...
Bluebells - a series of bluish-purple bells that run down the stem, smell fragrant like a dotted blue, delicate carpet. Lapping up the foot of the trees.
Wild Garlic - strong smell of garlic like baked bread. White star shaped flowers on 25cm stems, with fat, strap-like but fine leaves in mounded clumps, frothing, or, like foam on top of the wet green leaves...
Primroses - pale yellow or cream in fat clumps, with a darker yellow eye at the centre, spreading mid-green leaves, cabbage-like texture...


Moving through a Forest

Sunlight splashed through the branches, shifting with the wind that ran through the canopy.

Dark, glossy leaves juddered on branches as they pushed in. Overhead the canopy shifted, casting down green light.

They threshed a path through the undergrowth. Ferns flattened beneath them, brambles clawing at their sides.

Dips and branches caught at his feet, making him stumble.

The forest seemed to shatter into the smashing of branches, of leaves, his heart pounding fury in his chest.