A forest is a perfect setting for a scene or even a whole book. A tree is a place or a creature or a character. How many times does a scene begin with a character lost, running, creeping, hiding, exploring in the woods? And now, as the trees begin to change color with the new season, I’m sure we’re all noticing them a little more.
What do the woods mean to a story? I’ll let others explain for me (I’m lazy like that).
“[Treebeard] led the way in under the huge branches of the trees. Old beyond guessing, they seemed. Great trailing beards of lichen hung from them, blowing and swaying in the breeze. Out of the shadows, the hobbits peeped, gazing back down the slope: little furtive figures that in the dim light looked like elf-children in the deeps of time peering out of the Wild Wood in wonder at their first Dawn.” ~ Tolkien, Two Towers
When stride is long, and breath is deep,
and keen on the mountain-air,
Come back to me! come back to me,
and say my land is fair!’
~ Song to the Lost Entwives
“She stepped out from among their shifting confusion of lovely lights and shadows. A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all around it. And then –Oh Joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
“The trees bathed their great heads in the waves of the morning, while their roots were planted deep in gloom; save where on the borders of the sunshine broke against their stems, or swept in long streams through their avenues, washing with brighter hue all the leaves over which it flowed; revealing the rich brown of the decayed leaves and fallen pine-cones, and the delicate greens of the long grasses and tiny forests of moss that covered the channel over which it passed in the motionless rivers of light.” ~ George MacDonald, Phantastes
The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. ~ C.S. Lewis, Magician’s Nephew
“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” ~ A A Milne
“She looked at a silver birch: it would have a soft, showery voice and would look like a slender girl, with hair blown all about her face and fond of dancing. She looked at the oak: he would be a wizened, but hearty, old man with a frizzled beard and warts on his fact and hands, with hair growing out of the warts. She looked at the beech under which she was standing. Ah! –she would be the best of all. She would be a gracious goddess, smooth and stately, the Lady of the Wood.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
“Great stems rose about me, uplifting a thick multitudinous roof above me of branches, and twigs, and leaves– the bird and insect world uplifted over mine, with its own landscapes, its own thickets, and paths, and glades, and dwellings; its own bird-ways and insect-delights. Great boughs crossed my path; great roots based the tree-columns, and mightily clasped the earth, strong to lift and strong to uphold. It seemed an old, old forest, perfect in forest ways and pleasure.” ~ MacDonald Phantastes
“[The fairy tale] stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: The reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.” —C. S. Lewis, in Of Other Worlds”
I know I’ve read so many more quotes about forests and trees and woods, but now that I’m trying to come up with them, they elude me. Perhaps you have one that you are attached to and would like to share?
For now, I will leave you with one last quote about a magical forest… of a slightly different mien:
“Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance
To escape from the perilous pants eating plants
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I” ~ Dr. Seuss