Walking with Words

January is full of wellbeing intentions, to eat more healthily, to get fit, to write more. 

Nothing beats doing all three together. We’ve had a mild start to the year with plenty sunshine. Last week I strolled over the wooded hill behind the house and down to the river, with an apple, my new Christmas notebook, and a half-chewed pencil in my pocket.It’s an easy walk. You can do the circuit in under an hour.

My feet soon found their rhythm, eyes scouring the banks of pale grasses and fallen branches for anything of interest, then at the top of the hill, stopping to squint up into the space between the bare trees. The sky was clear and cloudless. Neither blue nor grey but somewhere in between. It felt great to be out in the cheek-nipping air. Rooks strutted below the trees gathering twigs for nest building. 

So, what about writing?  When would the words come?

Once my eyes adjusted to the light – I noticed a glossy holly bush stripped clean of berries and roe deer prints in the mud at the path edge. White-tipped snowdrops poked above the leaf mould. Then sounds – a woodpecker competing with the raucous rooks, happily drumming his own tune. The slurp and squelch of mud underfoot. The scuttle of squirrels on tree-bark. I’d become just another creature sharing the hill. No more no less. 

Reaching the river, I sat on the bench by the waters edge. A plaque on the back remembered another who had loved to sit there and listen to the river. The water was high after two days of sleet and rain, the colour of amber with snowy foam that tipped and splashed over boulders. I took out my notebook and pencil. The first words I wrote down were ‘The sky is changing colour.’ I took a bite out of my apple and closed my eyes. Only smell now. ‘The smell of earth and acid-green moss and the sharp tang of apple,’ I wrote.

The arm of the bench was surprisingly warm to the touch where sunlight had rested, and fingertip smooth. I finished the apple and the sound of the river rushed back in. I could smell damp dog ~ a memory of a family dog from half a century ago who loved to swim at this very spot. I turned the page, words had become sentences, my hand moved easily across the page.

Five pages later I began the walk home. The notebook warm in my pocket. Formed words swimming in my

head. Just forty minutes ~ the rhythm of my feet matching the rhythm of the words, as if I were taking words for a walk.


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