Sunday, 9 September 2012

Across the fields

Lately, I’ve become quite good at sitting.

Every day, I take my place behind the steering wheel to drive the forty miles to work; travelling along winding country lanes; down the soulless straight lines of the M25 and through the streets of a town that’s still trying to remember it’s a city. I raise and lower my foot and every so often turn my head or the steering wheel, but for every second of the journey, I sit.

For most of the day I'm stationary at a desk, occasionally getting up to move to a meeting room, where I’ll sit down to speak to my colleagues. If I find the time to step outside, it will often be a quick dash to grab a sandwich and take it back to my desk.

When I get home, I sink far too quickly into my end of the sofa; where everything I want is just within reach. My half-read book lies open on the armrest, a notebook and pen are tucked down the side of the cushion, my latest knitting project lies crumpled in the corner, yarns trailing, twining round the wires of the laptop that hides just beneath my feet.

On a Sunday morning, it’s a real treat to sit in bed; my hands curled around a cup of tea, as I gaze out the window at the tops of the trees, and beyond them to all the options of the day ahead. From where I sit, the possibilities are as endless as the day, but as I dream and doze, Philip says, in that irrepressibly insistent tone he sometimes has, “so… do you fancy a quick early walk round the fields?”

To be honest, there are so many things I fancy more. Like adjusting the pillow behind my back and staying exactly where I am, or persuading him to re-fill the tea-cup I’ve just emptied, but when I look at him he’s got that “come on, you know I always know what’s good for you” gleam in his eyes and I find myself not even hesitating as I say “yes, that would be lovely.”

In no time at all, our feet are crunching on the stubble of recently cut wheat, the early morning dew is dampening my trousers, and I’m waving my arms above my head as I try to avoid the nettles that grow with such enthusiasm either side of the footpath.

We cross a barren-looking field littered with flint-stones and I think for just a moment of cave-men and flint-tipped arrows. Then we pass a pile of timber, huge chunks of tree, roughly cut and slung in a heap. Suddenly I’m my childhood self, working out how to build a den amongst the logs, knowing instinctively which ones I could shift to make a secret hide-out, which would make the best table or chair. I imagine building a fire, watching the twigs sparkle and burn while I munch through the blackberries I’ve gathered from the hedges all around. My mind begins to invent the story of a lonely child, slipping away from home on a big adventure, hiding here for days, making friends of the wood-lice and the spiders.

We move on and round a corner, passing under a railway bridge. I marvel at the roundness of its arch, at the hundreds and thousands of bricks so carefully placed one upon another. I’ll never know why such effort went into building this tunnel in the middle of nowhere, I wonder if the path we’re treading today led somewhere more important once. I try to imagine who might have passed here, on foot or horseback, in days gone by.

Ahead of us, the hills are green and the trees are still in full leaf, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is gradually warming us through on this unexpectedly lovely September day. We walk on and on, until the call of breakfast is too strong to resist, then we turn towards home.

A short while later I’m sitting again, my hands curled round another cup of tea as I gaze out into the garden. In front of me lie all the options of the day ahead, but I smile as I think instead of the world of possibilities just a short walk away.

23 comments:

"As We Speak" said...

I loved taking a little walk with you. You create magic...
secret hide-outs...making friends with spiders...no ordinary stroll for you.

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Eryl said...

You go out early enough for the dew to dampen your trousers on a Sunday morning? Impressive.

Whirlochre said...

It's been great watching the Olympic sprinting — 100m of muscle pumping action with a very definite end in mind. I suppose rambles are slower versions of this kind of directed thought, and if random otters are involved, much more varied in the moment-to-moment appreciation of the 'end'. Sitting is slower still, and if we forget we're still actually moving we can come to a kind of mental full stop. I'm very lucky in this regard in that my abode full of seating appliances is uno mineeto from horse 'n' open field land so whenever I'm stuck of sitting and have no desire to relieve myself in the familiarity of my garden I can throw on a coat and perambulate at will.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Thanks for the walk...I enjoyed it.

Pat said...

My mantra used to be 'Never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie.'
Then a decade or so ago I had a number of fractures which taught me the importance of one's mobility: a precious gift one needs to nurture by doing what Philip would have you do.
He's not just a pretty face.

Wayne said...

This post (though it may sound silly) has really given me the motivation to actually do stuff - especially 'stuff' that my partner suggests. I think I'm far too willing to content myself with just sitting and doing nothing and I get quite argumentative when encouraged to do otherwise.

I'm just such a lazy person and I hate it - I literally never feel like I have the energy to make the most of my day. Maybe I'll start trying.

Thanks for sharing!

Joanne Noragon said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I need to think myself into getting out and about soon.

The Elephant's Child said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you.

Jacksquatch Detangled said...

Promise you will never stop writing. As was said before, thanks for the walk!

Nickey Darling said...

Ha my husband is always dragging me out on walks. He did this Saturday saying "You never know when the weather will be this lovely again" I always resist and take too long to get dressed hoping the weather will change. But the first few steps make me feel more alive somehow and I wonder why I fight it so. maybe because it's warm and fuzzy in my head, like bunny slippers and tea and flannel. On our walk through the woods Saturday we made friends(sort of) with a one eyed man looking for walking stick and helped him break a large fallen branch. He smiled like a scoundrel.
Thus concludes the longest note in history. I f'love your blog.

Mrs Smith said...

Now that we are shaking off the winter grey, the sun is emerging and our skies are clear, I can't wait to get out the door and explore the island. Winter has felt like one long sit down. Spring feels like waking up


Your writing is vivid and gorgeous. I love it.

Sandra Large said...

Another wonderful post so effortlessly describing how we all sometimes feel like staying put where its cosy and warm, yet appreciate the effort and pleasure we can find if we set off on a walk. Besides which, we brits can't afford to waste a single day of sunshine!

Matt Inwood said...

Beautifully rhythmic writing, so fitting of its subject. My favourite image is the 'corner of the sofa' and the proximity you have there to those things you need. Especially that notebook and pen. And from that point of your story, I read this as though reading from those very same handwritten pages of notes.

Bill Dameron said...

Beautiful Sharon. You described it so wonderfully that not only could I see it, but smell it, taste and feel it.

How I love a good walk to open up the possibilities in my world too.

Sharon Longworth said...

As we speak - I have a feeling that a walk with you would be no ordinary stroll either - you'd be so busy pointing out all the things that remind you of something else and making witty remarks about all you saw - I'd love to accompany you on one of those walks!

Eryl - let's just be very clear - the early morningness was entirely Philip's doing - so any impressiveness is his - I was purely his meek, and partly resentful accomplice!

Whirlochre - I've loved every single minute of the Olympics. There is nothing guaranteed to make me sigh and cry more than the achievement of an athlete. All that dedication, single-mindedness and triumph over physical discomfort - I wince when talking about it on the same page as my stroll around some beautiful fields!

Sharon Longworth said...

mybabyjohn/Delores - thank you for your company and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Pat - P's head is already swollen by this post and his part in it - he is claiming full credit for the writing... I'm really hoping he doesn't now see you suggesting he is more than a pretty face - he'll be unliveable with now :)

Wayne - I'm very glad you enjoyed this writing, and gratified, if a little bemused that it could motivate you to do something - thank you!

Sharon Longworth said...

Joanne - do it! the worst that will happen is some dew-dampened trousers and the odd nettle-sting...

The Elephant's Child - thank you, really pleased you enjoyed this.

Jacksquatch Detangled - that's a smashing thing to say and I'm very glad that you liked this.

Nickey Darling - now why didn't I think of the slow-dressing-delay tactic. I have so much still to learn...

Sharon Longworth said...

Mrs Smith - thank you! the thought of coming autumn and winter does nothing to improve my desire to step outside...

Sandra - you are, of course, so right - who'd want to miss that rarest of things, a sunny English day?

Matt - I'm always delighted to see a comment from you - I love how your careful and insightful comments make me feel like I've earned a tick of approval!

Bill - and I know that you could do a very fine job of describing one of those walks - so I look forward to reading it one day.

Zahir Shah said...

And imagine not leaving for that walk at all... we surely will have missed this beautiful morning walk.

Dicky Carter said...

A friend of mine lives in the Meon Valley and the walks I have taken with him round there sound very similar. As always a lovely piece of writing.

Christine Diamond said...

MMMmmmm! So cozy. You read my thoughts and made them flow so eloquently in vivid images. I feel the same way. I sit allllll the time. It is so nice to be comphy, but also such a simple retreat to walk outside and just be in a state of awe of what the little neighborhood has to offer, right outside. :) Love it! Thanks for your thoughts

Gabi BK said...

Magic... I loved reading this.

minimoroc said...

This post so lovely.
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