Time out

It’s about being warm enough to sit at tree roots for some time and try to clear your head.

It’s about listening, really listening to the birdsong you’ve heard a thousand times before and finding something new inside it. It’s stopping to watch a blackbird flicking leaves to upturn beetles and bugs; seeing fireworks in dead seed heads; noticing the faint breeze weaving through individual leaves on the beech tree; crouching to the height of fox or badger; finding patterns in fern fronds; hearing the husks of last autumn’s leaves rattle across the woodland floor; picking out fossilised fronds in oil shale underfoot.

It’s taking the time to stop, not to think, just stop. It’s being quiet; so quiet that the world around you forgets you are there. The joy in watching rooks tumble from treetops, clocking damselflies as they blue-flash, flit and flicker, finding four colours in one tree branch, the taste of sour strawberries, walking off the path to far corner of familiar field or well-trodden wood and finding a different way back, turning the view on its head, looking up from your notebook to see deer gazing, the shimmer of slug slime like mica veins on loamy soil; the spin of feathers after peregrine strike; the crawl of ivy over dry stone walls.

It’s seeing it all new when you’ve seen it all before.

I’ve had a shock today. A pleasant shock, but the type that turns the world on its head. The house is full of kids and I’m sitting, reeling. My other half won’t be home for hours so I’m cooried in, typing in a corner. Outside Scotland shimmers in the heatwave, the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre melts, wildfires crackle and my heart skips another beat.



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