They said you can travel within the UK. I did. Took a few days off and invited myself to a friend’s place in Aberarth, Wales. Excitedly booked a ticket from London Euston to Aberystwyth via Birmingham and back.
I’ve never had so much space travelling from anywhere to anywhere, ever. It was like moving from one fake film set to another. A story where nothing happens. No one meets anyone. Nothing is exchanged. No conversations are overheard. Even my tickets were not checked. I was truly in a bubble of one. The announcements were made by invisible human voices. Welcome to … but there was no one there. No shoulders brushed. No smiles. No queues at the solitary coffee shop at Euston.
Finding a window seat was no problem as there were at least 30 to pick from. As my train sped out of London, land and sky were revealed. Every now and then I got a glimpse of little streams of water holding a string of multi-coloured narrow boats along their edges. The sun glistened the patchwork of fields. The horizon was a long horizontal line interrupted only by thickets and vertical carpets of green.
Townships appeared with colourful children’s play-areas crying out for children. Don’t know why I tried to log on to the Train Wi-Fi but they wanted me to agree to a multitude of things which was the perfect excuse to put the laptop away and simply enjoy the ride. Branches burgeoning with white, pink and yellowish-green life, embellished the pliable black skeletons of trees, dancing to the tune of spring. Spring, the upward thrust of sap through roots and trunks to the fulsome tips of cold branches.
Nowhere to buy a bottle of water at the normally chaotic Birmingham International Airport Station. No noise other than the oh-too-loud announcements. Toilets, the cleanest they’ve ever been, on and off the train. From one desolate platform to another, I changed to a country train with 2 carriages meandering through gentle hills and fields towards the sea, stopping at places I’d never heard of before – Y Trallwng, Drenewydd and so on. I felt my fists loosen to receive this new freshness.
The next 3 hours were a dream. Ewes tailed by their cute little lambs scattered on both sides of the rail track. Lamb ears sticking out of their heads at a jaunty angle and their tails wiggling with joy! Clear waters mirrored the dance of life all around. Green slopes rose and fell in a soft rhythm. And I was here. My eyes were dry and my heart open. I clearly witnessed the fresh air and bright sun work their magic.
A few years back I had believed the season would never change. It would forever be autumn. But it has changed. It really has.
Three weeks ago I had an almighty fall while mindlessly running on an uneven pavement for a bus. I didn’t have to run. I had plenty of time. One second I was vertical and the next, face down, splayed on the side of the road. My hand-bag flew off to the left and my laptop case to the right. In my shock, I stood up like an automaton, gathered my stuff and carried on. The thing that hurt more than my pride was the nailbed of my right little finger. There was some red on it too. Both my knees screamed out. The nearly new jeans from USA bore no traces of a nasty fall but the skin on those knees was definitely open. And, the right elbow… and the left.
Over the next few days I lost my very personal diary which was luckily found in the ‘ladies’ of the office I had visited in Birmingham and kindly returned. I left my shopping bag at the Pharmacy where I was picking up dressings for the old knees. I put bottles of milk and apple juice back in the fridge without screwing the caps on and so on … Am I loosing my mind?
Is the Universe trying to tell me something?
Slow right down.
It’s time to prepare for the stillness of winter.
To face the darkness within and prepare for the birth of light.
A time to let go, like the trees, silently celebrating colours before denuding themselves.
One flower-like leaf being let go, after another, until they’re all gone.
Time to witness and breathe in the splendorous grand finale before the end of this cycle. Acknowledge abundance as my natural state of being.
Passively let good things happen, like the mulching, crisping leaves under my feet make the soil more fertile.
To be one with the magic of this season.
Become Ms Autumn.
Last year Si brought back a large packet of tulip bulbs from Amsterdam. Special pots were bought, gravel and compost lovingly layered, appropriate spots chosen. The planting happened at the end of December last year. Si and I have fingers of all colours except green. So, we waited for absolutely nothing to happen but to our utter delight, little shoots appeared last week.
The days are longer. The air is lighter. The light is brighter. One season has gone making way for another. Daffodils are raising their pretty heads and trees are sprinkled with white and pink blossom. Meteorolists worry and blame global warming for an early spring but I am happy. After many months of being cooped up in a cup-board, a blue linen dress found its way out into the fresh air this morning. First one this year!
Today is the 20th anniversary of PAPYRUS. We celebrated it as a group of 80-90, discussing the past, present and future of the charity, extending support to each other and sharing ideas about increasing the reach and impact of the work we do. For me, it was a day of hope.
“If I knew to convert
even this day’s riches?
Be content with articulation
Of Earth’s wisdom:
One state must have its duration;
Produces from itself a second;
One state and then another
Leading to an end I cannot presuppose.”
From ‘The Mystical verses’ by Joseph Maning, a gifted poet who delights people with his works on the Southbank.