Reset - Part One
A walk through the wild North Yorkshire Moors
Stretched out before my eyes the moors are wild, wondrous, and wide. I needed this, I think, taking a deep breath that hits the back of my throat and travels down smoothly into my stomach where it balloons and bubbles with happiness. I close my eyes as I let the breath work its way back out of my body slowly—each last drop of happy air—until I feel I might lie down breathless in the soft cushiony heather and simply let the earth absorb me; envelope me in its vastness.
Sometimes life becomes narrow—not just my boat and the canal, but life itself. The ache to stand before something expansive overwhelms me. I need that space—to shout out my pain, tell my dreams, remind myself that I am, sometimes, insignificant amidst the power of nature. The moors are of particular importance to me as these are the childhood playground of my mother and, consequently, have woven their way into the heart of my very being.
As we drive into them I feel a sense of calm as green and sandy planes spread out before me like a well-loved blanket. I itch to get out of the car; to get into them. We park in a little village we like where tractors trundle past and the yeasty homely smell of freshly-baked bread wafts across benches where hardy folk take coffee from reusable cups.
I’m not dressed for walking in the modern-day sense—I never am. “Laurie Lee walked to Spain in his brogues!” is something I am well-known for saying. And it’s true—I need nothing much to head out into the wilds. In fact, on this, a favourite walk, I often stroll barefoot the whole way.
We pick up flapjacks from the little shop, slipping them into our pockets before marching up the road. It’s Easter so cars seem more plentiful and I will my feet to walk faster, to get away from the tarmac. When we step onto the soft grass, my daughter and I kick our shoes off and let the cool, squelchy mud spread beneath our soles. Moss green matted blades tickle our toes. The air has a chill to it and our feet begin to turn red with cold. We march on towards the stone walls; sometimes talking, sometimes in silence, marvelling at our 16yo dog as she valiantly proves that she is not yet done with life.
I am joyous.
Light. Free. Inspired.
I let my daughter and husband walk ahead as I turn to soak up the view down into the valley. The river glints beneath lemon sunlight, shaggy sheep bumble their way across stony ground, their bulky coats wiggling in time with each sure step. My fingers instinctively reach for the piece of Jade strung around my neck. “I know you’re here, Mum,” I say out into the wind, and I feel at peace. There is a comfort in knowing that when we die, so a part of us lives on in all we have touched, created, nurtured.
This is where I would like to live on, out in the wild hills, mountains, beaches—all the expanses of land on this earth. Out here there are no rules, no expectations, no space to sully our minds. Consequently my mind is blank with beauty. I feel only goodness; a raging fire of compassion for all things burning inside of me.
The trees, the animals, the landscape—they all expect nothing of me other than the assurance that I will be kind. They don’t judge, for anything—and all—that I am. Instead, I am accepted.
We continue to walk until we reach the brook. It babbles and gurgles as our dogs drink in great galloping gulps, and we settle ourselves onto rocks covered with a sheen of forest green. Munching our flapjacks we chat easily, absorbing the shades of spring as she unveils her verdant face more and more with each passing day.
I want to stay here forever, I think, in this moment. To be in total peace and bliss. Hidden from the things that drag me down, confuse, or leave me lost.
Here, in nature, I am home.
Our walk opens out from woodland into marshland, and then back to expanse, stretched out before me. I close my eyes, breathe in through my nose, and wrap my arms around myself knowing that whatever life throws my way, here is where tranquility can be found.
Driving back to our holiday cottage we are silent. Parking up my daughter leaps out to creak the iron gate open. Pushing the key into the door we then assume our positions for the production line that is effective in wiping our dogs down swiftly. We leave our shoes scattered in the hallway and continue wordlessly into the kitchen where the kettle clicks on, a chair screeches as it is pulled away from the table, and we slowly edge ourselves back into the land of humans, the memories of earth smeared upon our skin.