This time of year is very special.
The dog has diarrhoea and we’re cutting down her food so as not to feed the illness. The more we feed her when her stomach’s bad, the more prolific the runs. So she’s hungry when we take her out for a walk and mid winter allows her to forage more then usual.
When you walk the same place most days you notice things. In spring you see the first shoots, blackthorn bud about to pop and the bluebell leaves together push with a gentle, unstoppable force. Everything grows like mad until summer as if all plants were planning a rebellion against gravity, only stopped by their flowering, when they literally ‘give up’ their seed.
After this everything falls again and recedes. Dies and rots. Changes form. Slowly, slowly dropping back towards the earth as if reluctant, and the earth eventually swallows it up, absorbs it, like the venus fly trap does with its prey.
When the growth dies back to nothing, the bare ground is exposed and this is where the diarrhoea’d dog lucks out. Her senses heightened with hunger, she sniffs out any rotting remnant she can get her jaws near and before she knows it she’s being dragged away by the collar and scorned, because for us, this is the last thing she should be doing, in fact this is probably how she got ill in the first place.
I walk the paths most days and see the decline of life. Week by week, narrow, grassy track turns to wider path, which turns to mud, then widens further, pools with water and is eventually avoided altogether. My hunter gatherer eyes, my ‘old eyes’ are drawn to any little piece of green which appears brighter than the rest on that barren, winter land, as it may carry more vital goodness for my body. I am aware that everything is now exposed, and couldn’t be much more so. Gravity feels more heavy.
The mind also recedes. As if in reflection of the world around me, there’s a realisation of the starkness of things and I admit to struggling with normally simply tackled situations. When I think of the vitality I was showing in summer, strong and well in the sunshine, brimming with energy and ideas, I get a little melancholy. In these bare days I cannot hide from how exposed I feel, post festive celebrations, beyond autumn’s fire. The ground is now lumpy, things forgotten about are seen again and the debris, so well hidden in the thick summer grass is once again looking me in the eye. I sometimes walk the muddy path and get stuck, but that was how it was meant to be.
So I decide to talk. I have to share what comes up because otherwise I make an enemy of the world. I proceed to dig out the ‘shit’ which surrounds me and find a better place for it. My landscape becomes frightening as I look at things I’ve buried years ago but I know by doing this I’ll have a better spring and summer and by next winter my idea of the ground will be a little less fear filled than it previously had been. I’m getting better at this as the years go by.
As for the dog, she’ll be looked after just as I am. She doesn’t always know what’s best for her but she trusts.
Connect with other people if you’re feeling low. Let the winter’s natural process work its way through you. Tune into nature and it will help guide you.