As the night went on, the older lads were keen to sleep after a long day, but my youngest refused, wanting instead to keep the fire lighting. Eventually, tired myself, I was keen to put my head down by the fire and I began to ready the place, I was looking forward to sleep. But he still wasn't moving. It was then that the story was told; a few nights previous, while we were busy in conversation in the kitchen visiting a friend, his daughter had put on a movie for the lads to watch in the other room. It had scared him lifeless and was convinced that things called reevers were hiding behind every tree. The picture of these half dead humans were so vivid in his mind that I had to call a halt to his stories before he had us all seeing them moving in the woods. Eventually they were all sleeping and I was left alone by the fire to treasure the night. It must have been an hour since they had turned in when suddenly the snapping of twigs drew my attention to something moving on the other side of the stream. Then there was another sound and they seemed to been coming right toward us. I leapt up and pointed the little light in the same direction as the noise was coming from. It stopped suddenly. I moved the light from tree to tree to see if I could catch sight of what was out there, when a little voice whispered from out through the wall of the tent, “Are you looking for reevers Daddy?” “No I'm not! Go to sleep!” I never heard another thing after that and after a welcome lie in the next morning, we packed up the tent and was about to head for home, but the reevers were still alive out there in all our imaginations. We crossed the stream and a little distance into the hazel wood, there we found the reever's den; a mud pool with freshly splattered mud lining the surrounding trees. The stag had passed us in the night, I'm sure he thought we were a bit cheeky to have parked so close to his favourite bathing place while the rutting season was in full swing.
One thing that has always puzzled me about hazel woods was that while so many nuts litter the earth beneath the tree, no new hazel shrubs ever get to grow. Any other tree has a nursery of young trees growing within its reach given a chance, but the hazel seems happy to be without all the hassle of younger trees growing about. But the guilt wasn't enough to stop me picking and before an hour had passed the shopping bag was full of nuts, as was the bag of my friends. On returning home the question was still hot in my mind as to why so many nuts and so few new trees in comparison and after a quick look on the internet, we found that if you empty the hazel nuts into a bucket of water, the good nuts sink and the duds float. Alarm bells began to ring as I thought I was being very smart collecting the hazel nuts which had been caught in the stream thinking the smart mice hadn't ventured in this far to gather their winter's stash. When the wheelbarrow was full of water we emptied the bag into it and would you believe it? They nearly all bloody floated, out-witted by a mouse or a wood full of them.... how do they know which to leave behind for mugs like myself? It turned out that the trees which I had planted years ago out side my back door had good nuts so the old saying 'Is glaise iad na chnoic i bhfad uainn' comes to mind (The far off fields are green!)I picked what was closest to me......a lesson well learnt.