I’ve been resting. Resting for me looks like house and dog sitting for the weekend. It‘a getting up early for dog walks and then doing it again and again for the rest of the day. Getting out and stretching our legs.
And I’m not complaining. It’s good to be out there greeting the light. Well what little there is. As the fog came in during the night and stayed. Creeping into the daytime too.
We get into a rhythm Mila and me on our walks. Short lead near roads. Long leads in the park with expansive greens. She knows though to stop and wait while I take pictures of things that take my fancy. That make me slow down, stop and look closer.
There is still so much beauty left for the season. Still so much colour which is even more striking and startling as they cry out from the grey. The fog. The chill.
Starting off Sunday next week, I plan to walk the West Highland Way, a well signposted trail from just north of Glasgow, Milngavie to the Highlands of Scotland, Fort William.
I tried to walk this trail about 8 years ago but failed at the mid point due to sickness. So this time, I plan to complete it by any means necessary. If that means someone else carries my bag with camping gear from one stop to the next then so be it. I’m not too proud to accept help.
But I’ve just checked the weather for next week. And apart from a sun shine sign on Sunday, the rest of the week is 50-60% rain each day. Every day until the following weekend.
Now I could let this put a dampener on the whole walk, pun intended. Or I could just carry on as I have been carrying on, full of excitement with a genuine positive mindset to complete the miles but to enjoy the process.
I’m going into this week of walking, shortest day 10 miles – longest day 21 miles, coming off the back of some good learning experiences which I want to bring to bear in this next challenge.
The first is my 100 days of practice to complete my commission for the BALTIC Hinterlands exhibition due to go live 22 October. I didn’t allow myself to get too far into my head, stress and worry about what I was creating. Instead, I really enjoyed the process of showing up each day and seeing what came out of it. I totally enjoyed the process and had fun.
The second is my recent completion of the Great North Run. I went into this event off the back of very little training and with the simple mission of completing the 13.1 miles by any means necessary. But I didn’t look upon it as something I had to get through, grin and bear it. No. I went into this endurance event with a healthy positive mental attitude. I wanted to enjoy the day. Get around with a smile on my face, really soaking up the atmosphere of the day.
These two learning experiences I will bring to my West Highland Way challenge. So it says it’s going to be rain for the whole week. I’m going to get wet. I’ll expect to get wet. No surprises then. So the flip side is when I see the sun, or glimpse a patch of blue sky, I’m going to feel gratitude and it’s going to put a spring in my step.
I’m prepared for the rain but if I get sunshine I’ll take it with a smile. I’m not going to cancel this trip I’ve been planning for months because of a spot of wetness. I’m going to get wet as I plan to get into the lochs along the way. I’m planning to take each mile as it comes and enjoy the journey. Rain or shine. I’m doing it.
Yes I’ll get wet. Yes I’ll be cold. Yes I might not dry out all week. But I’ll be out in the Scottish landscape soaking it all up.
Would I like more sunshine? Of course I would. Would I like to be stuck inside, head buried into a computer screen working for the man? Hell no. Give me a week of walking in the rain from the Lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland and I will gladly take it with a smile on my face.
When I took up a door to door sales jobwhile at University in London for extra cash, rain was sold to us sale reps. as “liquid sunshine”. I’m going to remember that as I trek through the miles.
“The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
I love Autumn. I always have but it’s just now, in the last few years, that I’ve really embraced this love. Confessed this love to anyone who would listen. Maybe it’s because I was born during this season. Maybe it’s the feeling of beginnings I have for the season with the return to school. Or maybe it’s the array of fiery colours.
There is something about the light during this season which touches my soul and brings me hope with a tinge of sorrow. Each year, during this season, we used to travel to Barcelona for a week or so. And there, the light at this time of year, is even more pronounced. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are lowering but when you get that light, that golden, warm light during an Autumn day, well the world doesn’t seem such an awful place. You can see and appreciate its beauty.
Many moons ago, I created a writing retreat in the mountains surrounding Rome, Italy, taking inspiration from the changing seasons within the landscape. The landscape’s on the change during Autumn and I wanted to explore this through creative means with others hence the retreat amongst the olive groves and rich colourful berries. Again there was a certain kind of light that would progress down the mountain through the day and rest into the evening with a creamy glow.
There’s hope during this season but also a necessity of letting go. We see this with the falling leaves, the flowers drooping , turning brown and crumpling into dust at the touch of a hand. There’s the ending of growth, death even, to make room for the next stage of development and growth and life.
I’m entering ( or could I already be there?) the Autumn of my life. In all honesty, I have been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, if not before, when there has been a great shedding of things, people, relationships, and responsibilities. I refuse to carry on, carrying the burdens of the world on my shoulders, trying to do it all instead of acknowledging the changes and entering this next phase of my life with grace.
This is what I’ll be exploring during this Autumn season. The beauty and grace and changes of the season. Within nature but also within myself. During Autumn, there’s a letting go, a surrender to what is, letting go of what was and a tenderness as there’s a slow progression into the next phase.
I’m not turning my back on my ageing process but I’m probably grieving the loss of youth, attention and usefulness. But this is the time, in that golden light, to embrace my condition of changing woman. Greet the transformations that are happening inside and outside of me with love. Like my love for Autumn. Autumn is here. She is beautiful and fiery. And definitely not silent.
I’m in North Wales. On a swimming residency. The heat and crowds have been killing me though.
Planning to keep cool with water. Inside and out. But the scenery here is amazing. There’s an ancient vibe to the place. I really get the felling that these mountains have been here for centuries and will be here long after I’ve gone.
There’s a timelessness about mountains which force me to step off the busyness and into the calm and collected stance of stillness.
Just like a mountain. Over the next few weeks, as we ease into the summer holidays, I’ll be here in fits and starts. Not putting any pressure on myself to produce as I’m tired.
I’m tired and need to fall back in love with creativity. And I also need something to say. So enjoy the summer and maybe see you back here. But if not over the summer, see you in Autumn.