Since I had no sleep in me, and watching the clock was tedious I decided to get up. 4.44 to be precise and one minute before sunrise I slipped on a sleeveless Puffa jacket, and by that I don’t mean I tripped over it I mean I slipped it over my pyjamas, pushed my feet into my gardening clogs and left the cat eating half a sachet of food.
Our road is still full of last weeks bunting and the planters are filled with red and white geraniums and blue Nicotinia. The road was closed to traffic some years back on account of lorries crashing into the White House on the corner. The geezer that lived there had influence so we now live away from the traffic and pay a higher council tax for the privilege of no car living. When the road was closed my mini family and I lay down on the Tarmac. Not totally comfortably since we didn’t believe a bus wasn’t going to run us over us. It didn’t. So now we live in a road that has a sign that says we are closed and you can’t get out if you turn left, which is just the way we ike it.
The bird song was loud and busy. Crows and Pigeons flapping their way in the high branches. Thrushes marking their territory and the loud clacking of some winged thing which I couldn’t identify.
As the sun rose the hills in the distance were shrouded in mist, a gentle Chinese painting kinda mist. Down the side of the avenue and past green signs declaring it was private property (sod that) I picked my way through flint stones and pine cones. Having walked this walk for nearly forty years when I reached the end I didn’t know which way to go. The grasses were knee high. Yorkshire Fog, Quaking-Grass and Cock’s Foot swaying together in the morning breeze.
Then though a gate and past the Lime Tree, which is now at least 9 foot tall. I remembered it being planted.
The crops are now shoulder height, well my shoulders anyway. The clock on the side of the cabin said 4.55 and at that precise moment two deer bounded through the broad beans. I looked at them, they stopped, ears pricked, and looked back at me. Then they bounced off. I looked for them on the way back but they must have gone a different way to get to their herd. It was the first time I had ever seen them in that field.
There are huge Spruce and Larches down hill to the stream where two trees have fallen. The buttery bushes of buttercups were on the roadside. Dog roses – pink and white – some open some still asleep have taken over the hedges. Blackberry flowers have burst their buds, unusually early I thought.
Then up the steep hill to the kissing gate, where a few years back I slipped on a circle of ice and broke my arm. It was a Sunday, I cried wee wee wee all the way home, the old git took me to a little hospital in Uckfield where they confirmed I had indeed broken the radius or the ulna, they couldn’t decide.
I wore a Plaster of Paris sleeve for a week then Doctor Gorbachov said I didn’t need it so he sawed through the plaster and strapped me up with a crepe bandage. Every time I get to the gate my muscle memory kicks in. I still can’t hold my left arm straight, I look like a Balinese dancer with a double jointed elbow. Going through the kissing gate I now hold onto whatever is growing.
Into my field, so called because I loved it when we moved here 38 years ago and I still do. It’s vast and the view of The Forstal and distant houses is magical. More broad beans and a big old oak tree. The sun was shining on its trunk and on my back. I followed my shadow through clumps of pink clover, by the time I’d walked the slope, known as Pooh Corner because when the child was young she always needed to, well you know. I looked at my fit-bit thingy. Four thousand steps. It’s only another 1500 to home. So to do the fit-bit thing I need to find an extended route so I can get to 7.000 steps which is now the recommended distance needed not to die.
A flock of 24 sheep were munching their way through the overgrown field. No noise just the crunch of their teeth on the grass chewing and squeaking, and then one fat lamb looked at me and decided this two legged creature was not a friend, it started baa-ing like a bitch. The rest of the heard looked up from their breakfast, recognised I wasn’t a threat and carried on feasting.
Foxgloves stood in the sunshine. I walked down the avenue to find my tree but everything was so overgrown I couldn’t identify it. Pulling back huge beech leaves I finally found my trunk which is normally covered in lipstick.
I arrived back home exactly one hour later.
The peace of that walk silenced my monkey mind, just the sound of birdsong and my legs swishing through the undergrowth. For one hour I left behind the radio, the telly, the buzz of life. Cars, motorbikes and tractors. Aeroplanes, sirens and the constant thrum of worry.
I read that ‘Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday’. Walking into the cottage I decided that worrying ain’t worth the stress – all that whirring of negativity – so I’ll take a cushion out of the cushion box in the garden, put it on the garden chair and meditate. Our red, pink and yellow roses are out, and the peonies are about to flower and it’s a Saturday, it’s also the granddaughters 16th birthday.
We’ll FaceTime her, sing her happy birthday then I’ll set about doing all the things I have to do today, which will include eating, dinking and dozing . There’s always a pay off isn’t there? getting up at the crack of dawn is fabulous only it means I’ll be fucking shattered for the rest of the day.