The sound of the door falling shut behind me is the sound of freedom and fresh air. My heart leaps at the prospect of time alone; moving, being, watching, remembering I am not just in nature, I am nature. I turn onto the road and pass the corner where tractor tyre marks can often be seen like huge teeth have taken a chunk out of the verge, and then there’s a leaning back to negotiate the steep hill that leads me to a halt at the junction with a busy road. Stopping gives me a moment to take in the view of trees and fields, against a background of blue or hidden in mysterious mist. I cross.
The cows on my left stop their constant grazing to look at me, staring curiously, completely still, making me laugh. I might even call out a greeting to them. Sometimes they’re up against the gate and will let me scratch their foreheads or touch their damp noses with their heavy breathing nostrils. There is the sound of a stream hidden by the overgrown grass interspersed with raspberries and the odd wild rose, grown so thick that the thorns are truly frightening, like the teeth of some prehistoric monster too big for this pocket size age. I might hear a car and make way, smiling at the driver from the passing place and acknowledging the wave of thanks before continuing on my way.
The tree cover becomes denser and the air cools, becomes thick with moisture and magic, like a tunnel, with walls on either side, moss covered and cracked to characterful beauty. Then I hear it. The river. My destination. The reason for this walk. My pace quickens and the descent of the hill turns it into a run and I laugh with delight, stop to pick up a stick and them I’m there. The bridge. I throw the stick, leaning over as far as I dare so it will land in the middle of the flow and I watch it disappear, before rushing to the other side to see it emerge; carried, floating, free.
How well do you know where you walk? Can you walk it with your eyes shut? By this I mean can you sit in the comfort of your chair or sofa, close your eyes and take each step in your mind feeling, hearing, smelling, seeing it all, even the things you usually miss when you do have your eyes open. This was one of the tasks I set my writing class last night and one I will set myself again, with another walk. The above is my most regular, but there are others. There are also one off walks that I still remember though months, even years may have passed. I may not be able to recount them with the same detail but the key aspects of the landscape and the feeling of being immersed in it will certainly still be there. I remember too a town walk, at night, returning from work and singing my way home as the cars passed and headlights dazzled. No one else was walking so I didn’t need to swallow my voice or be embarrassed but could simply thank the cars for drowning out my self consciousness. Walking. So simple. So vital. So…inspiring! I recently bought the follow-on book to the Artist’s Way. Also by Julia Cameron it’s called ‘Walking in This World’. I’m not far into it yet but near the beginning she adds a Weekly Walk to the regular tasks of daily morning pages and the weekly artists date.
“Nothing brings home the beauty and power of the world that we live in like walking.” JULIA CAMERON