Making time to get outdoors, at anytime of the year, can be more rewarding than you might expect.
January: grey, cold, wet. Or at least, from the desk where I am completing all my business admin tasks, looking through my window, that is often how it looks at this time of year – anything but green. In fact today, when we drew the curtains, it was white: on the ground was the first settled snow of the year. Not, in many people’s view, a good time to be outdoors, even if it was mostly gone by lunchtime. Better off in the warmth of the house. However, stuck at home with a toddler, this wasn’t going to be an option, so out we set.
I was met with a refreshing tingle to the cheeks and I came to realise that it wasn’t so grey after all – quite bright in fact - and a lot greener than we often associate with winter: ivy in the hedgerow; snow drops and other bulbs appearing, signalling spring; verges, lawns and fields of grass; the big yew trees growing in the gardens of the oldest of the houses in the village; conifers in the newest. Small birds flitted in and out of the hedgerow; jackdaws and gulls gliding further above. And as I turned off the main road, down the lane, I started to wonder why I didn’t do this every day of January. It felt good.
Then I recalled the walk pushing the buggy along the canal back from town last week, when I had come to the same conclusion, despite the pouring rain (a busy life had got in the way in the time between and I had forgotten). There was something elemental about the dark grey skies and the rods of rain bouncing off the path, the buggy and my head. A cliché maybe, but it made me feel alive; it was visceral and as if this simple experience had given the day some meaning. Was I simply feeling the force of nature: had I made my connection with it that day?
Today my reward was substantially greater and very unexpected. Something that, as a child, I had on my list of things I might hope to see one day (and maybe I’d forgotten that).
On a regular route along the river, not far from where we live - in fact somewhere my son and I wild swam last year – there was a turbulent splash as a brown head ducked down, a silent tumble underwater, a change of direction and an effortless glide across the river bed; body slick and powerful. An otter! I was astonished. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have this encounter, here of all places.
It really feels like a re-acquainting; like I have reintroduced a bit of nature into my life in a time of year when we tend to hide ourselves away. So, warm and cosy as you might be, however grey it looks outside, venture out, Into The Green and see what or where it finds you. You might be surprised.
No photo on this occasion - but what an experience.