I have taken to walking, and I am walking a lot. Every morning if I can; a twenty to forty minute burst of natural light, and then again, in the evening, after tea. I tread a familiar path, and often with her. She races ahead on her red bicycle or her red scooter, waits at the corner, jollying me along, ‘come on mummy, hurry up – I want to keep moving.’
I’m not a fast walker, I’m rather slow. I like paying attention to details, to flowers and brick work and cracks in cement; lavender and verbena are flowerbed favourites, so too are pink geraniums and fiery crocosmia; and homes that grow and change shape – the loft conversions and side extensions. I imagine the interior space and list all the improvements I would make to my home, but shrug the ideas away for I’m not cash rich. There is a house that has been for sale for over a year. There is another, perhaps a ghost house, that is unlived and unloved, tangles of weeds covering the stones on the driveway. I walk past the humming tree, home to a belligerent rabble of wasps. Another tree I stop and look up into the upmost branches, the swaying movement, the shafts of light, the rustling sound of sea. I walk past a playground and through a yellowing playing field. It’s where the dog walkers come and I’m vigilant for hidden mess. The council mow this field and I can’t understand why they have left an island of spindly grass. I wander over and still don’t understand why this has been overlooked – it’s just spindly grass, a pointless patch of feathery whiskers.
My daily goal is ten thousand steps, well more or less my aim, and it matters; earlier this year I reached my limits, thoroughly burning myself out. After weeks and weekends of non stop work and focused attempts at writing, I met a mountain I couldn’t climb, and could do no more. I took days off, forgot my pen, every weekend in March another cold or viral invasion. Hot flushes. Cold flushes. Sweats and fatigue. Forced to admit the current strategy wasn’t working, to update the self care routine.
Now I bookend my day – in the morning, before bed – with yoga and breathing and gratitude and silence. It’s working, and so are the supplements; I can’t praise ashwagandha enough. I have energy. I am sleeping. I am back on the ball. But although returned to work and walking and writing, I still have a foggy head. I struggle to remember the names of the garden’s flora – lupins are the pink and white spiky things, heleborus the plant with bells or flouncy fairy caps. It’s my age, a year(ish) from 50, a bank of mist that fails to lift. I can’t think clearly, and I forget – I forget words, why I came into a room, what did I say I would do next. I read and reread sentences in books, although that has never really changed…
… and which is why walking has become my new best friend. It clarifies and clears and grooms away the fuzz. I tread a familiar path. Sometimes I deviate, a different walk, another direction. Sometimes it’s two dizzying rounds of the block.