Is there a better way to clear your head than to lose yourself in nature? I’m lucky to live in the country side and have the privilege to as needed venture outside and step into the wild. Recently with crisp, cool air and welcome dry skies I took the free opportunity to take a wander into the woods beyond the boundaries of my garden.
Cratloe woods in county Clare, Ireland has for my whole life been a place of escape, frivolity and childhood wonder. I have so many memories from summers spent running through thick forest, always abandoning the paths, choosing rather to weave through the route least taken or seemingly previously undiscovered.
Winters, when frost tipped earth held tall fragrant trees, we wonder debate and take care to choose just the right tall gem to stand a guardian to most eagerly anticipated presents. Time spent whatever the weather in chase after or from my sisters, running, tumbling, climbing, exploring, adventures the bonded and created strong memories between us. It has always been a special place for me and holds a lot of appeal and respect.
Going back, it had been some time since last I stepped into the woods, years in fact, education taking me away. There were noticeable but subtle differences, a change in perspective brought about by a change in height and a continuance in life. None the less the feeling being there was as sharply felt and comforting as I remembered. It instantly hits you and intensifies the deeper ventured, the farther into memory I went, the more turns I took that sparked a recall and others I had forgotten, each turn delighting and freeing. Being somewhere without rules, somewhere quiet and growing, It is beautiful.
Spring always adds a soft and illuminating light and this day was a prime example. Flickers and thin, bright beams of rosy light fought to be seen through trees and brush, glittered on the top of choppy water, cast shadows and patterns all around. The rustle of animals and the laughter of children circles on the wind, carried over distance, accompanying you like a companion that cannot be seen.
At times you come to a place that commands stillness, forces you to stop. In those spots, as I stand on ground worn by boots and also left rough, uncultivated by man, I settle and feel myself become open. See details I missed in times before. The view has not changed, certainly far less than I have and no matter how regularly I walk this path, I always find a new view, something presents that I didn’t need to see the time before.
I sat for a long time on a bench eroded by natures wrath, a testimony to the power of this place also a reminder of the fragility of each element here. This bench was intact when last I came, stood solid on ground firm and cement. Now it tilts and threatens over murky water, still it takes weight and allows me rest a while. I curl up, knees to chest and breathed deeper than I have in such a long time. I closed my eyes, felt a tad unsteady at such an angle to the water but burst a smile at the simplicity of it all.
Birds landing and taking off before me, water moving with purpose and the light shifting with purpose upon the horizon. I sat still, let the breeze surround me, listen to laughter swell behind me, children rushing past, a memory of my own past flashes behind my eye lids and all at once I feel calm. It’s a feeling of being home, surrounded by family memories and also the possibility of endless more to be made. Being outside opens up the world before you. Ties together past and future, making the present seem to stand still. Provokes reflection, allows me to settle my thoughts and connect my desires with my reality, lets me dream a little without restriction and most of all makes me feel like me, there is no judgement in this place just glorious opportunity. That feeling the makes you throw your arms open wide and welcome the world.