It is seven months and six days since I last donned my fervent walking boots and headed out of the front door in search of the spiritual nourishment only nature can provide – the act of doing so more psychologically and physiologically strenuous than I had initially envisaged. But such challenges are there for us to subjugate… if we are to be alive to our values (and alive for them). Should we let either external constraints or internally-driven apprehensions suppress (or even oppress) our compelling predilections and true-hearted desires, then surely our very identities and individualities are at risk of corruption or cessation.
“A man can die but once…” – and we are surely most-enervated turncoats should we not overtly stop-up as many days preceding that momentous instance with all that we hold sacred, constructive and best-beloved. Attain the summit, then, of all you have accomplished, and the prospect must reward you with its beauty: the consummation of all you were fortunate to procure permeated with your recognition of its frail and finite significance, and illuminated with your toil.
My view, this morning, was boundlessly substantive – although, with 12 mph north-easterlies gusting up to 18, it seemed as if one zealous blast too many would have Tysoe cut adrift; as unanchored as my roving thoughts. Such aeolian forces cast the cross-hatched skies blue with cold: enfreezing the air blustering at my cauterized countenance; compelling five degrees to caress as sharply as two (or less).
Dressed more for winter, therefore, than for spring – chunky, fingerless gloves; a brace of fleeces; socks as thick as sheep; and an embracing neckwarmer to shield my enmetalled neck – I still could not tarry. That chill could glaciate my veins…. Yet, once more beneath the windmill’s peaked cap, sanctuary was regained… – but momentarily.
Once turned for home, the wind’s aspect was now my obverse: boring through me with nonchalance, its head as cool as mine. Refreshed, rebooted, reawoken, my thoughts harmonized with the year; grew in season with the zoetic animation enveloping me – my eyes decisively unsealed; my heart cast open, decisively, to the overwhelming goodness ingrained in every breath.
I may have vied with both the air and the ascent: but my avian companions revelled in these conditions – attentive yellowhammers flapping and floating from one low field-bounding tree to the next; a kestrel, eyes sharp as its name, enquiring of my purpose, then beating away gently above the pestilent oilseed rape; and, of course, those omnipresent limber aerialists, rooks – their strength prevailing over the draught; delighting in its curlicues and gliding on its streams to rendezvous on fresh-turned earth.
Sparkled clouds of goldfinch shimmered from the crops as my clumsiness shook the stalks; feet hard on the hard earth – commodious craquelure grasping at the point of my supporting cane. And, distantly above – too far for calling to be measured through the rough-and-tumble wind – a lone buzzard, hoisted by its vigour, wafting beyond sight, as well.
Nearly come back, blossom blazes from the roadside trees. Others stir: my wool-gathering cut short by morning greetings; dogs, affable in their affection, their mudded paws yet a reminder, stamped upon my jeans; and the momentary aftermath of silence that stalks the passing of sporadic cars.
My legs are weary, now: worn from the unwonted walk. My heart and brain united, even so: that lassitude transposed to a major key; endorphins locked and loaded. The landscape as provocation observed and surmounted, I throw my redundant gloves to the floor and grin.