This past week since my last #30DaysWild blog post, the intensity of my participation in the activity has been somewhat reduced. 20th-22nd June experienced the peak of a heatwave, with temperatures reaching over 30*c; too hot for nature, too hot for me. It was hard to summon the energy to look beyond the next cold drink, or to leave a patch of shade once claimed.
Tuesday. Swifts. All stiff-winged thrill, screaming shiver, arrow flight. Gravity doesn’t touch you, stranger forces are at work here. Other world bird.
Evenings gave relative relief from the blistering heat. Wednesday I walked to the allotment plot after dinner, pausing beside the lake to watch fish-ripples in the mirror-calm water tinted green by algae bloom. On the Thursday I took a moment to appreciate the sunset glimpsed from the balcony; red sky forecast a fine day to come on the morrow.
The sunset-forecast proved true, and Friday dawned cooler, but fine. A day at the allotment was required to heal a soul battered by politics, news/media, and the state of the world over that past few weeks. The foxgloves have almost finished, but the blue larkspur is coming on in their place, and the peas are almost ready to harvest. I picked a fat pod, popped it open and tumbled the emerald ball-bearings into my open palm. They burst in my mouth with a sweet freshness, surprising me with their deliciousness just as they did when I sat outside the back door as a child, shelling peas into the colander for my mum.
The dose of allotment-medicine lasted all through the next day.
Today is Sunday and marks the last week of #30DaysWild. We are past midsummer and the longest day, and I have already noticed that the hawthorn fruit has set where may blossom once adorned the hedge in white. It has been a strange day, calm, yet slightly melancholic, with thoughts lingering both on history and future dreams. I was tempted to sit indoors at lunchtime and hide behind my smartphone. I have my period this week (I don’t see why I shouldn’t say this, it is a perfectly normal thing that effects 50% of the population and is still, even in this enlightened age, surrounded by much miss-understanding, stigma, shame and embarrassment. I believe that periods are something that should be talked about more openly by both women and men and accepted as part of everyday life, but that’s another rant…!), anyway as I was saying, being that time of the month I was feeling rather delicate and more than a little tired. But I forced myself outside, to seek nature, because I knew it would make me feel better. And I was right.
I took a gentle walk in the woods; slowly, without hurry or purpose. I didn’t take any photographs, or post any tweets. I didn’t strain my eyes to identify any of the birds that squeaked from nearby vegetation, nor did I worry about the invasive qualities or non-native flowers that had crept into the wood from nearby gardens. I simply walked and let the wood work its magic. A spot of sunlight warmed my aching back, a light breeze cooled my skin with soft touch, innumerable shades of green and myriad textures were gentle on my gaze and soothed my irritable temper. I noticed how sumptuous the layer of leaf litter felt beneath my feet, like walking on an expensive carpet. I liked how a song thrush’s breast matched the dappling of sunlight that fell to the woodland floor. Beside the path edge a mole had pushed up a mound of earth, dark and crumbly.
I wouldn’t say that time spent in nature is a magical cure-all, but it certainly gave me the resilience to actively participate in the rest of the day.
So what of the last remaining week of this year’s #30DaysWild? Well, more of the same really – appreciating the precious everyday moments that have such an effect, but are seldom recongised.
Perhaps I’ll return to the lake one evening, and sit longer into the dusk. I’ll certainly return to the heath when the midday temperatures drop to safer levels. I’ll marvel at swifts swooping past my bedroom window, and monitor the progress of the first dahlia of the year to bloom on the allotment plot.
And I’ll take more purposeless walks in the woods.