Getting out of the house to deliver work was good today. It has become too easy to stay in my grey stone nest, looking out of the high windows at the storms and not venturing out until the weekends when I gasp my way up a fell, rewarded with paper wrapped sandwiches and a view to lift the spirits and feed me for another week. The wild weather lately meant that the weekend was postponed until Monday and the walk was an easy one, up Loughrigg Fell to gaze down on silvery flooded valleys and across to various Pikes and Stickles and knobbly hills whose names are becoming woven into my life like a poem muttered repeatedly, like a mantra, under my breath. We played at surviving by getting in the billowing “group shelter“, a large blue, bottomless tent that made me think of John and Yoko’s “Bagism” peace protests or getting trapped in the sheets while building dens in the bed as a child.
The storms had loosened bright scarlet yew berries, a trail of poisoned beads and shaken the last of the leaves into a soggy carpet that smelled delicious. Walking through a wood in Autumn is like walking along a beach… impossible not to fill pockets with collected treasures, a jewel coloured leaf, a sprig of sticky pine, an acorn perhaps (although like beach treasure they never look quite as bright when brought indoors and dry). It makes me feel like a child, sticking leaves in my hair and swishing a freshly fallen bamboo pole, pretending to be a pony… forgetting the horrible indignity of being, in reality, a nearly 50 year old in a second hand raincoat and borrowed hat who should probably be more dignified or risk frightening other walkers.
I’ve really agonised over writing this blog today because its been such a rotten few weeks, my self confidence and faith in personal and professional relationships felt shattered and for various reasons I was feeling that perhaps writing was my undoing. Perhaps the internet is no place for openness and candid musings when we’re always being warned to guard our identities and upgrade our privacy settings. I felt unsettled enough to read back, to double check to see if I had given away too much or spoken out of turn or been mean inadvertently. I thought about who I want to be and the kind of people I respect (I’ve been reading Richard Mabey’s book “Nature Cure” and he absolutely isn’t afraid to speak his mind on subjects close to his heart) and decided that I am not ashamed to bare my soul here so long as it’s balanced with good stuff too and doesn’t involve the entire laundry basket of dirty linen. Because sometimes it’s important to admit that things go wrong, that its not all primrose paths and that you have to walk up some pretty spiky, slippery tracks to get the sandwiches.
And …”Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”—Jodi Picoult
In other news, today’s drive took me to the lovely Eden Valley home of Jenny “Boo and the Noodle” who is having an Open Studio this weekend to raise money for a new village play area. It looks like there’s going to be everything you could ever want for the dreaded Christmas Shopping, and all handmade in Cumbria; including beautiful prints, exotic faux cacti pin cushions, textile artwork and some rather swishy Witchmountain mugs.
And so getting out of the house proved to be the best thing I could have done. I left the mountain in a storm of pouring rain and despairing tears and drove east into a massive double rainbow over Penrith. Heading home there is a point on the A66 when Blencathra looms beside the road and all the now familiar mountains of this magical corner of Lakeland are suddenly revealed in moody layers and it actually sends a shiver down my spine.
And so to bed. Thank you again for reading whoever and where ever you are, it means the world to this mountain hermit x
Reading:- that Richard Mabey book Listening to:- “Courting the Squall” – Guy Garvey