Recently, I have been feeling very stressed. With lots of things building up, I am beginning to feel weighed down. I don’t cope with stress all that well; I can handle it just fine, but it takes a toll on me physically. In the last couple of weeks I have taken to clenching my jaw during my sleep again, meaning I wake up with a sore skull; jaw, cheeks and forehead all suffering where my face had been distorting and tightening without my knowledge.
There is only one cure for when things get turbulent in life; nature. After a troubling morning when my original plans fell through, I decided to just get outside and go, no particular plans in mind. I decided to avoid the coast; the recent storms had attracted a lot of people to the beach to experience the crashing waves and penetrating winds, and I wanted to be by myself, so in land it was to be.
It has been scientifically proven that nature has a positive effect on health, with those people living nearer to nature less likely to be obese and suffer from depression and anxiety. And today, I needed it to soothe my troubled brain.
I drove along the main road for some minutes before noticing a random side track, and took it. This became the theme of the entire journey; taking the turning which looked smallest, with the tightest corners, the excitement of the unknown that lay behind them spurring me on. The sun was gleaming, but there were grey clouds building on the horizon, coupled with the occasional gusts of wind, the remnants of Storm Brian still lingering.
I drove through a tiny road, flanked by woods on each side. Tree branches grew over the tarmac, their branches outstretched, meeting in the middle like hands linking to create an archway, nature clinging on to itself despite the man-made atrocity in the middle. An autumnal smattering of leaves had collected at the sides of the road and horse chestnuts littered the floor, still encased in their spiky shells.
Slowly, the trees began to lessen as the hedgerows changed into Cornish walls, enveloped in years of moss. I crawled along, slowing right down every time there was a break in the wall, peering into the fields as I passed. Each one was different from the next; some overgrown and lush, others baring crops of leeks and marrows. Some had been recently harvested; shorn so short their now stiff wheat-bristles stuck up in tufts. I coil away from them, their sharp sheaves appearing painful and uninviting. I imagine what the fields like from above; a patchwork of colours and textures, sewn together by Mother Nature, blanketing over the hills and valleys.
I stop on occasion. Once to attempt to photograph a buzzard. It seemed to be partly through a moult, white feathers sticking out at awkward angles across its body. It flew away before I could before I could capture it. Another time I stop to say hello to three tiny Shetland ponies, snuggling in a field corner, huddled against the wind. They whinnied at me, wanting some attention, but I couldn’t reach them over the electric fence and ended up leaving them unsatisfied. As I passed another gate and glanced inside, I noticed several large gulls nestled in the middle. But as I got a metre or so past, somethings caused me to slow and then reverse back up to the gap. Next to the gulls was a large red fox my subconscious must have spotted. I got out of the car and hopped over the fence. The fox was sniffing the floor, ignoring the birds, clearly on the trail of something. It stared directly at me as I shuffled closer, but appeared entirely unthreatened by my presence. It followed the trail through a gap in a stone wall up ahead. I make to follow, but the large red polls caused me to falter, not wishing to cause a disturbance.
Back in the car, I sat with the windows open, listening as Vera Lynn tells me that we will meet again on some sunny day as I gazed over the melange of fields. I think of nothing but the bare trees and the autumnal air.
As I drove again, I realised that somehow, I had come full circle. Out on the main road, I noticed another buzzard sitting in the neighbouring field. I pulled into the layby and attempted to sneak up on it. This bird looked as though it was wearing winter plumage; the white feathers giving it completely different look to the common dark brown you usually see. Although buzzards come in a huge variety of colours, and white isn’t rare.
It doesn’t stay long and I make a mental note to learn how to be more subtle.
I realised that when I got home, I would have to reface the things that were bothering me, but my mindset felt different, and I decided that I would tackle things head on. But not just yet. Instead, I stopped off at the veg place on the way home, because what better defence in life than warm soup?
When I reached home, the rain finally began to fall.