Turning points

So the nights are getting longer. I was doing walking meditation in the library courtyard, feeling relaxed and yet self-conscious enough to walk at such an angle that the late shift librarian couldn’t see me from the café. He didn’t care, he was playing an electric piano, though I couldn’t hear it through the glass. Libraries are such important community spaces. My band used to practice on the sixth floor of the local library on Friday nights when we were too young for rehearsal studios (and pubs). Now I pace slowly backwards and forwards accompanied by a silent pianist. It’s a little surreal, I suppose.

Anyway, there I was shuffling up and down and the paving, walls, and surrounding buildings were lit with a kind of intense twilight that made everything more vivid. The deep blue sky contrasted starkly with the clouds, which were dyed candy-floss pink by the descending sun. Within five minutes, the light faded and suddenly night had crept into the scene. I remember seeing a similar vivid glow while camping in the Dart valley. My tent was surrounded by a carpet of fallen leaves which were suffused by hazy autumnal light. Similarly, on returning from a quick trip to the bothy, I was surprised to see the startling effect had already gone, replaced by limpid daylight. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

There’s something refreshing about the turn of the seasons, though I’m increasingly grateful for the return of the light after winter. This season of mists and mellow fruitfulness used to be a favourite but now I appreciate the change most of all. Probably twenty years ago, I was kicking leaves while walking through a village and saw a bookshelf and lamp in the window of a terraced house. That’s what I want, I thought. It’s funny how these blueprints stick and before you know it you’re on the other side of a window, fixing a broken bookshelf and surrounded by books and more books: many of which you haven’t read and have no time to read. Or at least it sometimes feels like it. But that’s OK. Moving south-west has been a big undertaking/adventure but the house is coming together, we’ve been extremely fortunate to find freelance work so far, and things like this meditation group are fostering a sense of connection to the area. I don’t know what the next change will be but I’m still excited to keep shuffling through the leaves and see what I find.

Bad juju

While supposedly training for a half marathon, I went out for chocolate and crisps. As I’d been working at the computer for most of the day, I decided to loop around by the old cemetery. Though it was evening, the birds were still singing as I came to the grey stone wall. No doubt they were confused by the dawn-like haze of the road. Beyond lopsided gravestones and the derelict church, the sea was calm and azure.

A stone angel crouched at my left as I cut in through the gate. You know how it is in these places: the limbic system wakes up. You keep a wider field of view. Sounds get your attention more easily. What was I keeping an eye out for? The kind of people who hang out in places like this? Something else? It was getting dark and the headstones made it difficult to spot danger. Is that a person? No, it’s another cross halfway to sinking into the grass.

A white veil was blowing from one of the tall trees, hanging above the path. I gazed up at it. Just bubble wrap. Then a crow shot past, startling me with its yammering. I jumped again, as something howled in front of me. A large black dog started pacing towards me barking, no owner in sight. I took a few more steps and turned on my heel. The gate by which I had entered now seemed distant, and the dog for its part seemed determined to usher me out. It reminded me of the nights when Pablo and I would wander through the woods and over the hills after the pubs kicked out. Sometimes we’d come to the turn-off and look out over the unlit expanse and just get that feeling: no thanks, not tonight. It often happened on a new moon, when everything was that much darker, but not always. Bad juju.