The traffic was heavy and fast-moving along the busy road, as we slowed to turn into the arboretum. The gravel crunched beneath the tyres, as we drove through the tall, black, wrought iron, double gates into a contrasting world of peace and tranquility. It had been several years since we had last visited the arboretum and the large, stately cedar, situated close to the entrance was a forgotten, but welcome sight.
We parked the car and then headed in the direction of the old cedar tree, looking forward to the first sightings of peacocks and bluebells. I watched our 3 young sons, running ahead, chasing each other around the cedar's ample trunk. The peacocks' calls echoed all around us, as we walked towards the bluebell dell, and the boys continued to run in front, laughing and calling to one another. They bent down low, to run in and out of the accommodating, natural dens, formed by numerous, spreading, glossy-leaved rhododendrons. They hid behind large, reddish-brown, velvety trunks of giant sequoia and jumped out, in eager anticipation, whilst we were still nowhere near.
Eventually, in a grassy, sunny clearing, we came across a peacock, displaying its bejewelled tail, and even our young, excited sons stopped short, in awe of the exotic bird, slowly turning and shaking its glorious feathers. When we reached the magical, bluebell dell they were, once again, brought to a halt, by the enchanting sea of brilliant blue, which lay before them, still and undisturbed, bathed in dappled shade. We sat, for a few short minutes, on a nearby bench, whilst our 3 young boys ran to and fro, along the path in front of us, marvelling at their inexhaustible supplies of energy. Slowly, we walked back towards the large cedar, with the boys still running in front, stopping only occasionally, to pick up the odd fir cone from the ground.
In the car, once more, as we neared the wrought iron gates, I opened the window, to gaze past the large cedar. In the distance, I caught glimpses of our 3 young sons, still chasing each other around the tall, imposing trees. Their laughter was drowned by the mournful cries of the peacocks, cries which rose above the tallest branches, to escape into the clear, blue, vacant skies. I glanced into the empty back seat of the car, as we approached the busy main road, and I knew, in my heart, that my young family was lost to me, forever.