As the days shrink down to their bare minimum over the coming weeks, and dark nights stretch long black wings across the land I find it easy to stay inside. After all there’s always so much to ‘do’, so much to read, and then there’s the inviting wood burner to keep me enchanted during this season of double evenings.
Regardless, I do my best to show up for the outside world, knowing that’s where the bones of me want to be. Out there I’ll be reminded of the elasticity of time, the malleability of space and the grace of the stories of the land.
When life gets hectic, I need to knuckle down, grab my jacket and take time out. It’s only by going to ground in this way that I can clearly see the wood through the skeletal trees of the encroaching winter. What is it about the cold breath of a meadow, the mud scent of a river bank or the ominous presence of the moor that nurtures us so? Maybe it’s because we were made out there, in the wilder places. Perhaps four walls are not a good fit for a human after all.
Didn’t Kalhil Gibran suggest that ‘the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair’? Maybe my lockdown locks need to feel the chill fingers of the breeze, maybe my feet are calling for the kiss of cold wet moss.
This modern, tame, civilised life can tease us otherwise, but yes, life really is all about the outdoors. And when we really, truly can’t get out perhaps a picture, a film or a piece of poetic prose that speaks eloquently of the love of the land can become a good stand in and go some way to filling our yearning hearts with the sense of green.
The ground, no matter how cold right now, has words for us.
Often I’m asked how to ‘ground’ oneself and I’ve done my best to muse and contemplate on the best thoughts I can muster. But the clue is in the name, surely. Ground. Maybe the best way to ground is to be on the ground, not the floor. To have a skin to skin affair with the land. To let nature have her beautiful way with us. Sole to soul.
As the lights go out on this difficult year and the days retreat into the den with the foxes I’m doing my best to tip my hat to the bruise coloured skies and the dank blonde moor grasses.
To quote another famous countryman, John Muir, ‘I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.'