Friday, September 19

A Walk on the Wild Side :New Forest Walkabout

"Its Been Emotional" (Big Chris 'Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels': Vid Clip - 4'50)

A sentiment I've been heartily echoing recently as work/life pressures continue to steadily build. Knowledge of a forthcoming, very late summer holiday, our first trip abroad for 15+ years, somehow adding to that roller coaster feeling. Rather than the opposite anticipated effect.

But hey, none of this is new in my life. A shift in viewpoint then. That essential paradigm shift. Memo to Self - a need to control my reaction to circumstance, rather than become enmeshed within it's mindless rush.

That ever incessant urging to embark on the Helter Skelter Express. Headlong towards the dark and ominous tunnel, that lies in wait at the end of all our journeys.

My own ticket is necessary for disembarkation at an earlier station. Something building within me recently. A need for that special sense of quiet. Not merely the avoidance of social interaction, but a total absence of noise. Distant road traffic, the breathing and idiosyncratic personal irritants of other humanity, even those close and deeply loved. A burning desire for solitude and peace.

The chance to take one huge lungful of nothingness. To breathe it deep down inside my body and recall my mind back to the real meaning of existence.

Escape. Earlier today. A New Forest track. Far from the popular routes that others frequent. On this sun kissed Friday morning, towards the end of the holiday season, a perfect opportunity to reach out and touch that great void. Alone. Even if this time it is only for a fleetingly short visit. A hastily grabbed, but long planned, day free of the normal obligations of everyday life.

The path, still boggy in places from recent rainfall, keeps the conscious mind alert. Planning the body's way ahead. Trees and undergrowth still unseasonably reckless with their intrusion across this ancient forest way. A sign of this year's summer weather resulting in a outburst of vegetative growth.
Above and ahead, in gaps through the tree canopy, a blue and cloudless sky. Amongst the open glades, the sunshine feeling warm on forearms and face, before being vanquished once more as the path returns into the deep woodland.

On softer ground, signs left of recent deer activity. The short twin stabs of hoof print marking in the mud a reminder that the herd is near, even if unseen as I quietly travel through their domain. But always sensed out there deeper into the scrub land of the denser forest.

Here and there the ever remarkable fungal sculpture. Now lessening as the colder nigh time temperature starts to slow down their appearance.

Birdsong is again my walking accompaniment. Returning after its late summer absence. The jostling for territory marked with an increasing concerto of trills and whistles. The strong busily establishing their feed grounds ready for Springtime mating, despite their unknowing of the repetitive seasonal cycle. Following their own deep primal urge.

A crossing of tracks, out on open ground. Unusually for one who tends to walk without break today I choose to sit on the carefully positioned bench. A pause to saviour the warmth radiating from the wood behind my back. On the sturdy monument a small weather beaten plate, a brief nod to another's life. One who at some time during their 75 years discovered this place. And felt it special enough to leave a marker for others as yet unknown, but able to share their pleasure.

At my feet a wood ant, carrying debris more than twice its size. And as soon as one is identified, another is spotted nearby. And then more. Until suddenly, as the eye/brain recognises the pattern of movement, the path comes alive beneath my feet as hundreds of woodland ants track scent paths to and from their nest. Another journey with a more dedicated purpose. The sunshine providing the anthill with the opportunity for some housekeeping and late season stockpiling. Preparation for the darker days ahead.

I raise myself from the bench to rejoin the path. Moving onwards. My unconscious continues to quietly sift through conflicting urgencies. Left to itself for the present to juggle life's imperatives. Whatever conclusions it offers to be considered later.

For the present, its enough to simply wander alone amongst the natural world. And share the moment.

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Bliss - I need a walk. Take care John.
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