Tuesday, June 07, 2016

30 Days Wild

I signed up with the Wildlife Trust to do their “30 Days Wild” challenge. Each day I am being challenged to do a random act of wildness.  I am one week into the challenge and have discovered that wildness, random or otherwise, is hard work.  It doesn’t just happen but has to be planned into my day.

Day One – a thirty minute walk in a nearby forest. It was a quiet walk. I met a man and his dog.  The dog was willing to be friendly but the man wasn’t.

The thing about forest walks is I inevitably end up feeling guilty. I feel bad that I don’t know the names of the different trees.  I can’t identify the different birds by their songs. It’s like gate-crashing a party and not knowing any of the people there!  

Many years ago I taught for a while in a country primary school.  I arrived very early each day and spent the first half an hour in the company of the canteen staff. They spent their first hour drinking tea and gazing out of the kitchen window onto the school playing field. They pointed out various birds by name and talked about nesting pairs and all things wildlife. I knew what venn diagrams looked like and could draw the outline of the island of Australia. I wished I had their knowledge.

Day Two – closer to home this time. I filled up the bird feeders with new stuff. The peanuts had not gone down so well. The suet balls were gone. It has rained quite a bit previously and I could tell that I hadn’t changed the seeds in a while – the seeds had sprouted in the bottom of the feeder, sending up green shoots around the edge of the plastic.

Day Three – nothing to report.  It was a Friday.  I had planned to arrive early at my husband’s work to pick him up.  There was a meal to be eaten and then we were off to a race night raising school funds. I’m not a joiner-in and felt really out of place when all the ladies turned up dressed for Ascot in summer dresses and hats.

I discovered that when it comes to picking winners, I can’t do it without looking at the form – the horses' past race placements. Race nights don’t include that kind of information.  I thought that my husband, being a man who knows horses and horse racing, might actually be able to identify the races for real, but it wasn’t to be.  Everyone on our table won money except for us, although we did win two bottles of wine in the raffle.

As I say, I planned to turn up early to pick my husband and take a walk around the duck pond at his work.  I could have ticked my box but I was delayed.

Day Four – Another “I planned to do…” but it didn’t happen.  It was our monthly creative writing morning.  I planned to leave early and drive further down the road to a spot that looks out over the Beauly Firth. I have no idea why I was delayed – ah, yes, I wrote a poem instead. I’d looked over last month’s meeting notes.  What we wrote then was notes, lines, first drafts that I hadn’t done anything with. I needed to remedy that. What’s the point of creative writing workshops is you never polish up those first drafts.

I went along to the firth later on in the day. The day was glorious. The sky was very big and very blue. The tide was coming in. A few gulls were gliding on air currents. I tried to breathe the peace and tranquillity.

Someone was having a party and the throbbing beat of music and the drifting smoke from a barbeque didn’t do much to promote peace and harmony – though the neighbours seemed to have having a good time. More friendly dogs and unfriendly dog owners!

Day Five – I had witnessed forty four young people being confirmed at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. It wasn’t my usual place of worship, but I have a young friend who was one of the candidates and I wanted to be there to witness the event.

“Who’s St Harvey?” I whispered to my husband as my finger went down the list of candidates and their confirmation names. 

“He’s the patron saint of invisible rabbits,” was the reply.

This is not true, by the way. Harvey was a bishop in the very early church who was blind. He is a patron saint of bards and troubadours, and the man to pray to for eye infections.

Afterwards, I went to sit beside the River Ness. The last flakes of blossom were falling. I wasn’t watching the river or the trees but indulging in people watching. I loved seeing some couples walk in perfect synchronicity. I remembered my school days and how my best friend and I were matched for walking together.

Day Six – there are just some very busy days and fitting in something wild just isn’t possible. It was poetry at Eden Court. The topic was “Tea”. The poetry group can sometimes feel like that party crashing moment when you know they know lots of poets and poems and you don’t. One man, however, despairing of ever finding a “tea” poem resorted to writing his own. It was a wonderful comparison of men and women drinking tea. I suppose it was stereotyping – the ladies with the delicate tea cups and Earl Grey, and the men with the mugs and PG Tips doing DIY.

It was late. I dug out a nature magazine when I got home. I lusted after a decent camera so I could take good pictures of wildlife. I learned a lot about soil and how it takes 500 years to get good top soil and then a week of wet weather and it’s washed away, or a week of dry weather and it’s blown away. I discovered there are lots of species of bees beyond “bumble” and “honey”. I intend to be a more informed forest walker!

Day Seven – that’s today! My random wildness today was drinking a cup of herbal tea. I admit that it’s not so random. I have quite a collection of boxes with various “use by” and “best before” dates. Today’s selection was peppermint and nettle – Twinings, not homemade. 

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