Yesterday I crashed around in the damp leaves, in a quarry with a women called Vanessa. It was not a time for ‘normal’ people to be out. A wet Sunday afternoon in a quarry on the edge of town. The only people here were the teenagers, smoking in a sodden pack, perched on a rotten tree stump, and the ‘wierdos.’ I was the latter. The teenagers greeted us like fellow edgelanders, people who skulk on the scrubby edges of society.
We were here to do a meditation nature walk and had dressed in a bundle of odd layers, mine, moth bitten with burn holes from bonfires, Vanessa’s, so peculiar her teenage daughter had urged her not to leave the house.
We found a quiet spot, springy with raked up piles of beech leaves, we meditated, we walked around in the leaves, feeling the earth, our muscles, smelling the loam.
The birds alarm called, travelling flocks of tits and goldcrests, but then settled down, sensing we were ok, not likely to do human things like shout or call in dogs. We quietened down too, became centred, absorbed the outdoor world into our pores and let it be. Our muscles relaxed, our faces relaxed, we became part of the earth, not balanced upon it.
The rain stopped. The ‘adults’ emerged, dog walkers. They eyed us warily, they called their dogs away from us, the wierdos. I didn’t care. I felt my otherness and liked it. This stepping off the ledge of modern, normal, acceptable, life. Not shopping, not playing with a gadget, not exercising, me or a hound, just being.
I felt a woodlander in vaguely human form, a shapeshifter. It was the same feeling I used to get when camping rough in the woods. I would walk into a village in the morning and sense that my life and the life of the people I passed were on parallel tracks. I was walking just off to one side of the present, living an older, more natural, more animal existence, letting go, not caring about fitting in.
As the dog walkers scurried away I fell backwards into the pile of leaves and, laughing, looked up at the roof of skeletal winter twigs. The eiderdown of the woodland floor sucked me in