When I was pregnant with my daughter Eve, I went on a walk in the woods with the family dogs Bongo and Piglet. It was a walk unlike any I had previously taken, for somewhere along the way I was no longer just me. I left Laura behind and became animal, pure, simple and sound. It opened up to me the sense of smell, but also expanded my sense of who I knew myself to be. This is my post about a little walk on the wild side...
Super No, Normal Yes
I remember the first time that I put my hearing aids on aged 23. I thought they were turned up to some super fine frequency as a test run - this is superpower hearing right? I asked the doctor and she looked at me and shook her head and said no, this is normal hearing. And I couldn't believe it: all these years I had been missing this? The fact that at first I could hear the swish of my hair when I walked and things rattling around in my bag. I could hear the conversations of others at tables nearby and best of all I could finally distinguish the words of all my favourite Rod Stewart songs. Here too in the woods, it was as if my sense of smell was being turned on, just as the other creatures can smell every single day.
Similarly here on this walk in the woods, and somehow being pregnant I was tuning into senses that had laid dormant in me for too long. But now carrying my child I was being invited into a deeper appreciation of life. Forest smells included. For here, I was wolf, I was deer, I was dog - I was horse. What I mean is, I could smell - really smell. It was as if suddenly I was aware that there was a dialect in the wood and I wanted to be fluent. And as I crouched down on my knees and pressed my nose to soft green moss that padded the base of a tree stump I inhaled as deep as I could.
And so for one moment life brought to me, a compostic twang of twigs, a mulchment of leaves and muddy earth and dampness that was close to all out wetness and damn you need to use the word fecund because the whole thing was fecund, it was delicious and ripe and sweet - the musk of deer mingled with a smokiness tinged with the sweat of plants nearby and probably a bit of badger shit. I didn’t know the specifics. Only the incredible feeling of being so intimately turned on by the wonders of the forest I never knew existed.
And then I sat on a tree stump and looked around and Bongo came and sat near me and he looked around too. And I watched him. He’s got a soul that dog. And I wonder if we'll ever really know it.
And then we walked on and came to mud – wet, thick, sludgy wonderful dance in me even if you are not a hippo mud. But I didn’t. Instead I stood and remembered being a kid and walking barefoot through mud slathered holes in the country with a friend and the delight being as total as one can wish for. And then we walked, the three of us enjoying each others company.
We walked till we came to a part of the woods we don't normally visit where the long silver trees were cloistered closely together and their lime green leaves swayed softly in the breeze. I looked around and noticed the sculptures: the forgotten relics from the Queen of Hearts. For apparently after Alice left her she was so apalled and dismal at the way she had treated the young girl that she headed for the woods and started creating these compositions, hoping that one day Alice would find them and forgive her.
An Absent-Minded Queen
But the Queen is old and has become slightly forgetful. What are these woods? And who is Alice? So all that is left of her as she wonders off somewhere else are these sculptures, and every now and again one stumbles upon something of hers lying abandoned. Like one of her black heart's that we found. It was so small. It could only have come from her wrist.
So we walked on, stumbling on sculpture after wonderful sculpture.
Picture frames trying to contain uncontrollable art, that had roamed, curious of what lay beyond.
And isolated clumps that were more then clumps, because seeing them you knew that great effort and care had gone into their placement.
Then Bongo saw a puddle and waded in, resting there for a moment. And overhead I heard a bird and I looked up and there was this brilliant purple light that shone right through the trees
And when I looked down it had gone. The ability to smell and be animal was no more. I was no longer wolf, nor dog, nor horse, or deer.
I was human.
Some Things Never Leave Us
But you know, the woods are here and I still go for walks - along with my companions.
And my daughter is born and sometimes she comes with us.
But mostly when I walk I walk with Bongo and Piglet, because of the stops and the way that we walk takes a rather long time. But if you feel like a walk, a wonderful walk, come lets go together. And we'll sniff and we'll stop and we can howl if you like, and wonder what else is right out there.
Because once sniffed, forever known.
Even if we pretend we forget.
Over to you!
Have you ever had an unusual experience walking in the woods? Please share your story in the comments below!