Over recent years I’ve been developing a seasonal walking calendar. The idea is to visit the places where I can best encounter key seasonal events in my locality. This is primarily about what the plants are doing, because these are predictable year to year. Good places to see the bluebells and the spring beech leaves. Good places to see the wild orchids, especially the bee orchids. I also know the best places to see glow bugs, and some migrant birds. I also know where the herons nest, where to see ducklings, where the bats go, where I am most likely to find young owls in the summer, which paths open or close in which conditions and so forth.
This walking calendar has been built over years of exploring, and finding out how different parts of my surroundings change through the seasons. Creating it has been a rich and interesting process, and a body of work I don’t imagine it is possible to complete. There’s always more to know, and more plants to learn about and encounter.
Last year, covid limitations meant I didn’t get to a number of my key places at the right time. We were encouraged not to be out for more than an hour per day to exercise, and in some areas that was enforced by the police and by neighbors reporting each other. This had an awful impact on my mental health. What made it worse was knowing that it was total nonsense. Transmission requires people. If you’re outside and you don’t see another person, you can hardly spread a disease. Time spent outside is not an issue unless you are trying to alleviate pressure on inadequate amounts of green space. And there’s a whole other set of problems that needed better consideration.
This year I’ve struggled with fatigue, and various other bodily problems that have really impacted on my ability to walk. I managed to see some bluebells, but not the wonderful blue swathes that make the hilltops so enchanting. I may not get to see the bee orchids. These walks and encounters have been the heart of my Druidry for years, and it is hard being without them.
I’m focusing on doing what I can, seeing and connecting with what I can, and accepting my limitations while doing my best to push against them. Perhaps later this year I will be able to be a pilgrim again on my own terms. It’s something to aspire to, and to work towards.