They unfurl as delicate, pale greens. There is something about the way light passes through a beech leaf in May. Something otherworldly, and unlike what happens with any other tree. Beech leaf filtered sunlight seems to come from somewhere else, from a different time, a better place. The light that falls through them is softer, and full of possibility, and the leaves themselves glow with it.
A beech wood in spring is a magical place. If you were going to see a unicorn anywhere, it would be here, amongst the bluebells, in the beech leaf light. If you were going to step into a fairy tale, these springtime paths would be the ones to carry you off.
As the year turns, the beech leaves darken and no longer let the light through. The beech wood will become, for a while, rather like any other wood – wonderful in its own ways, dappled and inviting, but not as suggestive of magic.
In the autumn, it will become a place of extraordinary colour again, as the beech leaves yellow, and then turn towards remarkable copper hues, and blaze for a while.