When it all gets too much, I go for a walk in the woods. It calms me. The smells and sounds and sights get inside me and I feel alright again. It's like pressing a reset button.
I walk in the woods on my own but I am not alone. I share it with squirrels, wood pigeons, millions of insects and, to my constant delight, a herd of deer.
One summer evening I attempted to photograph the deer. I sat in the woods with my camera on a tripod, and waited. I waited a long time. It got dark. I felt a bit scared. I've seen The Blair Witch Project. I've seen Twilight. I've seen Harry Potter. Nobody in their right minds goes in the woods after dark!
I heard something move towards me through the undergrowth. Something large. Something breathing. But I couldn't see it. Then it stopped... Suddenly I heard a loud snort and a whoosh of leaves and branches and a thunder of hooves galloping away.
I stood up, picked up my camera and walked out of those woods as fast as I could. I had scared myself silly and, worse, scared the deer. I felt terrible about that and vowed never to try photographing them up close again.
If you're scared of walking in the woods, you really needn't be. Not in the UK. You're at the top of the food chain and every creature in the woods knows it. And if there's another human in the woods, it's probably someone harmless like me; walking off their worries and bumbling about like a wannabe David Attenborough.
(First published on my blog 28th January 2016)
Richard Pettitt, cartoonist.