My four-year-old runs joyfully through the deep woods, arms raised, her dress flapping behind her as I follow at a distance. She raises her arms and twirls through shafts of green sunlight that slant to the ground around us. She runs her fingers through the shaggy moss, peeks gingerly in the black hollows of the ancient trees, and rummages through the undergrowth for snails and mushrooms like Easter eggs.
We come here often to roam these patches of the cold rainforest that once covered Ireland. We found mushrooms like saucers that we take home for dinner. We sit on giant roots that stretched like jetties over the water, watch the tadpoles gather under our toes, the kingfishers flashing like jewels in the trees, the herons that lurk like gargoyles over the water.
These woods teach that death is not the end, even in this world; a fallen tree erupts into mushrooms, and the sunlight falling through its empty space in the canopy wakes a carpet of flowers, so a death in the forest brings an explosion of colour. In a few years a sapling will fill the space, its young leaves sheltered from the winds, and on autumn evenings its turning leaves bathe the woods in an orange light, a candle against the coming darkness.