Walking Tottie in the park yesterday, I was struck by the number of couples lying in the grass just holding. It looked nice in the sunshine. I wouldn’t mind doing it myself but now isn’t the time. Now is soultime, so today I took myself off for a picnic by a lake, about an hour’s walk from the Warren. First I painted my toenails red, then I opened the cedarwood box where I keep my out of season clothes and found my hiking shorts. Then I packed Tottie’s lunch and put together a box for myself; carrots and tiny tomatoes, crisps and a small pie, some new season radishes. A bottle of water, a rug, a book and the aforementioned parasol and I was off.
On the way I met a man who I fancy but mindful that it was my soulday I said hello,tightened the straps on my daypack, chatted to him about this and that, then was off again. I could so easily have invited him to come with me but didn’t. Spirit likes that and the effect that this particular cause will generate will be worth waiting for. You mark my words.
The lake was blissful, just me, the trees and a flock of copulating ducks. The sun shone and Tottie cooled off every so often in the shallows. Occasionally hikers went by and a man came and joined me for a little while. He’d been foraging for wild garlic and he gave me some to use in my cooking. He told me that he had bought his Council flat for 9K ten years ago and that now it was worth 130K. Good on you I said. He was having as much fun in the sunshine as I was and soon went on his way.
After three hours I was running out of water and as I had an hour to walk back I thought I’d better get started. The wood was cool and the lace parasol kept catching on branches. Once or twice I thought Tottie was running out of steam, so I let her rampage in a mud pool. When we got home I had to run the hose on her because the mud was beginning to stink.
By bedtime I was starting to feel funny-spaced out and a bit floaty. I don’t like the feeling and knew it as a touch of the sun. I read my sun screen only to find it was self tanning cream with no factor in sight. All night I tossed and had mescalin dreams, but today I feel fine. A bit pink and streaky in places mind you but back in my body.
I know women who feel that they would like a day by the side of a lake but ‘don’t have anyone to go with.’ I know that one of the gifts of ageing is my ability to take care of myself in this way. No midges, no ants, no rapists in the bushes, mother dear. Just me and the universe in total harmony.
My book, which didn’t get opened by the way, was Arnold Toynbee’s history of civilisation, not perhaps the wisest choice for a backpack. He says that human history is all based on the fact that we are social animals. It was the larynx and the head/hand connection that gave us the edge over the primates we left behind. That’s as maybe but just for that day I’m glad I resisted the urge to be social and took the time out for a special silence and the chance to connect with a place that holds me firmer than any splendour in the grass, however seductive the thought.