Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Key Within the Mind

I am rarely alone when I walk the woodland tracks at night, my dogs are good company and the breeze through the darkened leaves whispers gentle songs to flow around me as I make my way through nature's time and space. On occasion something malicious travels with me like a deranged creature muttering spiteful thoughts to interrupt the gentle songs on the breeze.

Last week I suffered one of these presences, normally as I walk the mutterings lessen as if it tires of following me and pales into insignificance beneath the sight of the stars, but not so this time. I stepped away from a life of corporate advancement many years ago when I realised I was becoming someone I did not like, but recent circumstances has pushed me back towards dealing with some of the personality types I used to come into contact with on a daily basis. Their office games and methods have pushed their way back into my work and I have found the thoughts clinging and lingering past the closing of the office doors.

As I wandered my thoughts would clear but were soon snapped back to dealing with issues that had no place within the woodlands. I could feel my anger growing both with the situation and with my inability to throw the thoughts from my mind and gain a little peace. I find an enraged mind is a little like a caged wild creature, it lashes out at those who stray close to the cage regardless of their intentions or well meanings. I decided it was time to deal with the issue and put things into perspective before those close to me could begin to suffer.

I walked with my pack and the demon within my mind to the western edge of the wood where the twilight from the sunken sun still set the horizon aglow and I stood beneath the canopy edge. As space, light and landscape stretched before me I began to gain a sense of the scale of the movement of planets and stars turning in space. I also began to flick through images and sounds within my mind to draw relevance to the scene before me, sounds seemed to fall into place to accompany the songs of the breeze and after a while a song I had enjoyed but not listened to for many years began to play (here is a link to the song, however I do believe that anyone else who searches for a song, text or image to gain a connection to the wider world and their place within space & time will have their own, and these will be of far more relevance to the person who searches them out)

As my mind became calmer and resonated, the thoughts that had previously plagued me faded and vanished. I was relived I had not looked for distraction from my own mind. The distractions of sports and entertainments seem to fill the minds of many I have worked with and they seem to reach a point of obsession as pressures grow, but for me distractions are short lived cures for my problems, to turn a key within the mind to gain connection and perspective brings a comprehension and steers me away from the "head in the sand" cure.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Bones of a Shelter

With the storm clouds building overhead and the distant rumble of thunder passing across the woodland I stepped off the wide track and onto the woodland floor beneath the dense canopy of the conifers. The woodland floor was carpeted with fallen pine needles and lay barren of the undergrowth that flourished in other areas close by. Before me lay abandoned shelters, their framework resembled the exposed carcass of a long dead beast clustered around the tall trunks of the pine trees.

I walked amongst the structures as the first drops of rain tapped into the canopy overhead. The frames had lasted many years but the covering of branches and fallen debris had slipped to the base of the frames or had been carried away in the passing of time. Some shelters would have comfortably held a single soul for a night or two, others were bigger and must have held a few occupants. I smiled as I stood among the rustic ruins, it appeared the youths from the village near by had received instruction on how to put together these shelters and had no doubt enjoyed some time in the company of friends and mentors in the past.

In the failing light and the approaching storm the bones of the shelters could have passed as a woodland sculpture. A bold statement of form and function harvested from the surrounding environment and gently decaying in harmony with its surroundings. Earlier in the evening I had passed the remains of another abandoned camp, a budget tent lay broken and strewn with plastic bags, its decay was far less harmonious and brought the traces of a throw away culture to a place that should be treated with a greater respect.

I allowed the images of the harvested shelters to fill my mind for a moment, I suspect it had been many years since the woodland floor had been used for teaching and enjoyment in such a way. I hope the sight of the shelters will spark a fond image and perhaps encourage another group to enjoy the experience.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Contrast of Night & Day

Earlier this week I was reminded of my past life, sitting in an uncomfortable humid heat within a clients office I watched as staff became ill at ease with each other and the tasks passed to them by management. I remember well the feelings of striving for promotion and struggling with systems and instructions made by those who are not hands on with the projects on a daily basis. It was a relief to leave the office at the end of the day, but such relief was short lived as I sat on congested roads for two hours steadily baking in my own sweat with the sounds and smells of combustion engines around me.

It was early evening by the time I arrived back at my hovel and after taking care of a few tasks I decided to take two of my dog pack for a wander to help clear my head and enjoy the cooling air. Low clouds obscured the twilight sky depriving me of the vision of the emerging stars between the trees as I set off on familiar tracks and the issues of the day were still turning in my mind in an attempt to distract me from the here and now. It was perhaps a quarter of a mile before I could feel myself beginning to relax and enjoy freedom of movement as the muscles began to shed the tensions of the day.

I emerged from the cover of trees into a wide clearing on a broad and little used vehicle track. A sharp call cut through the breeze and caught my attention, turning I watched two sparrowhawks chasing each other through the young trees in the clearing, vanishing for the briefest moments in the lengthening shadows before reappearing within ten yards of me and circling around me calling as they went. I gained the impression they were not hostile to each other and were perhaps young hawks enjoying their last flight of the day before settling for the night. As they sped away into the far reaches of the clearing I lost sight of them and carried on to the tree line and turned to the smaller tracks.

My two dogs trotted ahead into the gloom, eager to stretch their legs and enjoy their freedom until I was aware of the sounds of growling and scuffling from the track in front of me. I assumed they had perhaps come across a stray dog and I ran forward to ensure a fight would be quickly stopped. I was surprised to find my two dogs either side of a badger, needless to say the badger was not happy about the canines following and investigating as he trotted towards me. The badger stopped for a moment as he realised I was blocking his escape along the path. Standing to the side of the path I created a gap for the badger to escape, the creature scurried by and was only perhaps three feet from me as he accelerated past and into the shadows. It took a few stern commands to prevent the dogs chasing him as they followed their instincts.

Returning to our journey it was only a short distance before we came across another night creature lurking at the edge of the wood with the boundary of a sheep field. Both dogs halted and held their gaze to a vixen watching the sheep. The vixen soon realised her position was exposed and in a flurry of movement sped for a gap in the fence and sprinted across the open field. Again it took stern commands to the dogs to prevent them from giving chase, but I was rewarded by the sight of her escaping to the hedges beyond the open ground.

With a journey of such sights it was little wonder I was calmer and happier by the time we reached the last of the woodland trails and began heading for home. It was a relief I had not given in to the temptations of a chair and the distractions of the TV, within the twilight I had been given far greater gifts.