It was exhausting to constantly calculate distances in my head, to stay fully alert to the world around me. I wanted to enjoy being back on the saddle. I wanted to feel the wind in my hair, the prickle of the early morning chill on my fingers. But I couldn’t let those sensations dominate.
I can’t remember the last time I shot this camera. Now that I hold it I wonder why. It fits beautifully in my hands, its weight a comforting presence in my grasp. I open the back to load a roll of film and for a moment I’m lost. Was it at the top or at the bottom that the empty spool should go? I have to open the manual on my phone to find an answer.
I apply hand sanitiser to the trolley handlebar, rub a drop more in my hands, step in line no further than the markings on the floor. I put on the face mask and enter in the shop at the guard’s order and try not to think about the stress rising in me.
There is this path leading out of the park that has been taunting me for over a week. I see it almost daily but have never wandered to it. It it narrow, less than two metres wide. Trees border its edges, protecting the brook below on one side. Fences keep houses secure on the other. I cannot see far along the path. It could widen into a vast field but a curve leaves everything to my imagination. And those days, I am unwilling to explore any path that is less than two metres wide.
I open my eyes and look at the sun. Its presence makes the days easier to bear. It is easy to get out, to lie in the grass, to wait for this to pass. But it is also a reminder of what I am missing out on, of what I have been waiting for. Easter should have been the first proper escapade of the year, as every year. My body rusted from winter cold, it would slowly awaken in the fields and lanes of the countryside, remembering the freedom that comes from longer, warmer days.
Later, I told my sister about our pancake breakfast over Skype. She told me about the apéritif she had had with the neighbour, a wall dividing them as they each sat in their gardens. They were beginning to cook lunch now, the barbecue warm she showed me the meat and vegetables that were about to be roasted. We carried on chatting about life at home with the children, the creative projects I’d been working on, and whatever else we could think about. My nephew asked when I would be coming to visit, a question he asked relentlessly.
Findings - Week 06
Kathleen Jamie and Al Brydon
One of my aim for 2020 is to be more conscious of the time I spend reading/listening/watching new (to me) creative projects. I want to actively make time for other people’s work and creativity in my life. One way of achieving this has been to be more focused with my time but as the year gets busier, I am going to to lose that focus. To combat this, I am going to publicly share a list of works I’ve been enjoying on a weekly basis.
Kathleen Jamie – The Tree House
Continuing on with my poetry streak, this week I read The Tree House by Kathleen Jamie. Every night before bed I read a poem or two, letting the words linger in the air.
Kathleen Jamie is both precise and magical. She observes the natural world around her and finds beauty and peace in it. Far from being removed or separate, the natural world weaves itself inside her life. Flowers bloom, birds sing, and she lives alongside it, remembering to call her father or enjoying a walk with her friends.
Al Brydon – Pantha Puncha
In this video, Al Brydon takes us on a multi-layered walk in the woods. The going is easy, slow and peaceful. But the woods carry secrets within. The atmosphere is laced with mythology and life unseen. From trees, to moss, and sheep skeletons, whispered echoes of long forgotten stories are all around.
What have you been enjoying this week?
I turned the advance wheel until it stopped and pressed the shutter button. The cogs moved as I’d predicted. The springs, I had not immediately spotted, replied to the movement in a rhythm designed decades ago. It appeared flawless but this mechanism had started to fail. The last time I had used the camera, the advance wheel had wrecked havoc with the film.
Her words, repeated in my ears, whispered under my breath, and typed on my screen were a reminder to let go of my daily life expectations. Before Covid-19 spread through the world, I would go to work during the week, work on personal projects in my spare time, and spend a day or two walking or cycling at the week-ends. But now I cannot do that and I have to learn a new routine.
It’s a pointless exercise preparing a cake to celebrate a birthday, when the person to celebrate is not here. But it feels more important now to do so than before. Birthdays are still happening and amongst the statistics of death, they are a needed reminder that life is carrying on.