Recently I picked up a copy of the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed in my local little free library and started re-reading the story of her epic hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. I thought these adventures would be exactly what I needed to get my mind off confinement, but instead I find myself getting increasingly itchy feet. As I sat down to write this, I realised that four years ago at this exact time of year I was hiking along the Camino del Norte. No wonder I’m doubly craving that incredible feeling of freedom.
I find myself fantasising about getting up at the break of dawn to pull on the same clothes as the day before, with no other plan than to put one foot in front of the other and follow the yellow arrows, open to whatever the day will bring.
The Camino is nowhere near as difficult or wild as the Pacific Crest Trail, but I recognise that feeling of intense relief when putting down your backpack that Cheryl mentions and those descriptions of gobbling down all the food you can get because you are so hungry after a day of hiking. I will never forget how every apple tasted delicious, every tortilla sandwich was utter heaven:)
I loved being alone with my thoughts for hours, hearing just my feet crunching on the path and seeing the landscape evolving with every new kilometer covered. The quiet of the moments of solitude overlooking beautiful landscapes were incredible, as well as the fun times shared with other pilgrims of all walks of life met along the way. I think I may need to plan another long hike when it’s possible to travel safely again.
For my birthday, I received a book of poetry from my Mum, called Two green parrots by Australian poet Anne M Carson. It’s a lovely gift, which my Mum took the time to dedicate to me, that short handwritten note in biro at the front making it so much more personal.
I really enjoy picking it this small volume and reading one or two poems here and there, little stories that draw me back Down Under for a few minutes as I visualise the scene from my memories with sight, smells and sounds.
I especially like her poems about birds. For me the sound of waking up in Australia is amazing, the birds are so much louder than here in Europe and their cries are completely different. Just hearing them in a movie will bring me right back to where I grew up as a child. Here is a little extract to give you a sense of how beautifully the poet expresses it:
“Wattle birds wake up raucous.
They don’t murmur their way into day
or carol the growing light.
They ram their voices into the first chink
that opens between dark and dawn, staking claims.
Voice as a lever, they wrench morning open for themselves.”
Extract from: Wattle Birds, Kew
This inspires me deeply to practise writing about daily scenes around me, playing with words to capture life going on all around me. Merci Maman for this wonderful gift:)
A few more pictures from that morning when we went to see the sunrise at the beach. I want to remind myself of the luxury feeling of having the empty beach stretched out before us as we walked along with no destination, nowhere we needed to be at a specific time, just the freedom to stop and watch the waves crashing over and over again, or to examine the amazing patterns on huge jellyfish or the multitude of tiny stones and shells washed up on the shore. I want to bring more and more of this peace into my daily life, without having to go far to find it.
Those moments around dawn and dusk, when the light is soft and a magic glow shines on everything, are my favorite times of the day.
While we were in Capraia Paolo and I made a point to be outside and enjoy them often (even if it meant getting up at 5am to see the sunrise).
We have our own favorite ways of being in the moment: I like to take pictures and capture the gorgeous light, while for Paolo it is the best time for fishing. Over the years, I’ve taken tons of pictures of Paolo on different coasts, patiently casting his line against stunning backdrops of changing skies.
Dawn is particularly magical because it is so quiet, and as the fiery sun makes its majestic appearance, it feels like nature is putting on this show just for you.