I went for a long walk on Hampstead Heath today. It had rained earlier and everything had that fresh feel to it that comes after a shower.
The understated beauty of the heath had an almost spiritual effect on me. I felt I could breathe easier and as though I had dropped a heavy load from my back. I realised that, although I love the sun and I will nearly always choose a tropical beach holiday over nearly any other kind, I could never properly live in a hot country. The freshness of a British afternoon after rain made me understand that this is the kind of weather I need. I hate the cold, yes, but I’m not like a Floridian or a Spaniard who thinks it’s cold at 15 degrees. It’s these dreary, overcast days that often make me feel miserable and trapped, but without them, I couldn’t take the kind of walk I took today. And without those walks, I wouldn’t be me.
If I was at home I’d have walked along the beach, from St Kilda to Lawyer’s Head, or to St Clair and back. If I’d gone St Clair wayI might have gone around the cliffs. I’d have looked out at the green grey Pacific and felt the sea air hit my face. I’d have let my shoes fill with sand and let the sea water soak the bottom of my jeans. I’d have sung Powderfinger‘s song Whatever makes you happy to myself, as I always do when I walk along my beach, and as I did today as I walked through narrow tracks in the woods.
I let the mud flick up the back of my legs as I walked. I let the mud puddles soak through my sneakers and make my socks cold and brown. I let people walk by without smiling at them for once. I let myself get lost in the maze of paths that crisscross the heath. At one point I came across a man with three small children and a pushchair, and I helped him carry the kids across the giant bog of a mud puddle blocking their path. I saw squirrels bounce across the forest floor and spin around tree trunks. I came out of the darkness under the trees to look upon a bright green meadow, so British, so bucolic. (If it wasn’t for Steve’s use of the word I’d never have looked it up and I’d still think bucolic was a type of plague similar to bubonic.) The sun was behind the clouds, but throwing enough light to cast vague shadows. Not big shadows, like the shape of the trees on the grass, but little ones, like a shadow behind each blade of grass, making them all stand out against each other. I found three trees off the track that someone had wrapped in wool. It made me think of Ngaio.
It rained and I continued to walk. Hours. I was wet and cold and muddy. It made sense somehow. And then when I got home I caught up on some Outrageous Fortune.
I’m still not feeling fantastic but I’m on the way up, rather than down. Love and kisses to everyone.