In need of wildness

I was struggling long before lockdown with the need for wildness. I live in a beautiful part of the world, but the car noise, the careless walkers who leave bags of poo in their wake, the cyclists who treat ancient monuments as obstacles and things of that ilk had been getting to me for some time. I craved a landscape with fewer people in it, and more wild things.

Then we hit lockdown and everything got worse. The main walking and cycling routes close to my home are busier than ever in the day. Not wanting to add to that and finding it stressful, I moved to twilight walking, but as it has got warmer, ever more people are about at the end of the day. I used to spend hours walking, and the loss of time in the landscape has left me depressed and disconnected. On top of that, poor circulation and/or low blood pressure have caused me sleeping problems.

This week I decided to make some radical changes. So, rather than getting online when I wake up in the early hours, I got my walking boots on. Tom and I went out. The first time, we saw no humans. The second time we ran into a couple of people, but compared to how many folk there are out in the day, it was nothing. Narrow paths I would not have risked in the daylight became totally socially distanced. The world that I had lost opened up to me again.

I came home with the dawn chorus, euphoric. I came home able to sleep, both times, which means my sleeping has radically improved, so my head feels clearer. A tension is easing out of my body, that had come from feeling disconnected from the land. With more time outside and better access to the wild, I am more myself again and lockdown is a good deal more bearable.

There is also more wildness at night – foxes and hedgehogs, owls and others. The dawn is full of birds, and there are lots of wildflowers to appreciate as the sun comes up. With almost no other people out there, the landscape seems wilder. In darkness, familiar places become less so – there’s a lot I can work with here.

We don’t have a garden, so an hour of exercise might be considered the proper amount of outside time we can have in a day. Although guidance around how long a person can be out for varies. An hour is not enough for my mental health. I can’t walk as far as I need to in that time and it has really taken a toll on me. But if we set out in the night and see no one, I can’t see it matters how long we walk for.

I’ll keep doing this long after lockdown – walking to meet the dawn has changed my relationship with the place I live. I feel re-enchanted. Being liberated from the presence of people I have no interest in seeing is a great relief to me. In the silence, with the wild things and a most excellent walking companion, I no longer feel so lost.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “In need of wildness

  • juliebond

    I’m really glad you have found a way to get out in to nature and avoid people! You’re right that this has got more difficult since the lockdown. It’s a nightmare here in central London. The parks are busy all the time. Even the local nature reserve is just used like an ordinary park. Kids run about all over it, picking flowers then just discarding them, moving logs, etc. Even adults play football on the wildflower meadows and have picnics then leave loads of rubbish behind. It is infuriating.

  • anaelleamaya

    I feel you also, and I am wishing very much that this situation (corona quarantine) will be soon over. 👍 Until autumn comes 🌺 🌺 🌺

  • homeschoolguru

    Sounds absolutely magical. As a child we used to sometimes take the horses out for a nighttime ride, if the moon was bright enough not to spook them. It felt like the world belonged to us. Your post really got me thinking about doing something like this with my kids. Thank you.

  • 12beans

    How I relate to this post; people look at me askance when I say that my local parks are now totally off limits to me due to bored people crowding them with their loud conversations and total disinterest in the beauty surrounding them. Nature is my meditation and therapy, and now my local favorites are as invaded as a freeway at rush hour.

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