Sometimes the predawn chorus is enough of an alarm, and in response to the friendly birds inviting me out to play I brush the sleep from my eyes, slip out of the snoozing house, trot stiffly up deserted streets, and slink into the woods, transforming into a stealthy creature of the still lingering night.
The webs forged overnight by industrious arachnids catch in my eyelashes and drape across my face, comfortingly reassuring me of my solitude – at least in terms of other people, who, under the guise of “birdwatcher” or “dog-walker” seem to relish waiting around curves in the trail to startle those who have momentarily forgotten that they are not the only humans alive.
Under the dark canopy silhouetted against a brightening sky, patches of daisies, glowing in their paleness, float in the darkness like archipelagos in an ocean, and, like a cartographer landing on a new continent, I leave the darkness behind to strike out into a bright clearing.
After a moment of quiet observation, the landscape releases the giant breath it was holding, and the order of the day returns to the bustling rodent metropolis I now find myself in, where sounds of grooming and nibbling accompany quivering grasses, of which entire stalks sporatically descend quickly below the surface to be ground by tiny molars and consumed into tiny bellies.
My gait is a comfortable silent toe walk and my eyes naturally flit to the path before me to subconsciously work out a snail-free route forwards, though sometimes my heel descends just far enough to elicit a half *crack* from a shell below it, and I sense the universe moving through me, thrusting a stranger of a snail into homelessness and an adventurous hunt for bigger and better shells.
It is difficult to get lost in thought amid the vibrant air and the scenery dripping with detail, but on occasion the mind’s eye simply has business to attend to within, until a rustling from behind gently coaxes my attention back to my immediate surroundings, complete with a deer, twitchy muscles taut, nostrils flared, ears fanned wide, trailing me, for once.
The light that slowly colours the trees from the tops down in vivid, thick, green paints that seep onto the earth from the by now brilliant sky above, eventually weaves through my lashes to strike my eyes and stir my spirit, quickening my heart until I find myself dancing between tree trunks and high-fiving long grasses reaching out to me as I tear down familiar forest trails, made unfamiliar by their overgrown summer garb.
Upon catching my breath, I step back into the real world – or back out of the real world – with a renewed bounce, laden with a fresh forest scent and countless tiny seeds plastered to my dew glazed limbs and sodden shoes, more than ready to sculpt the beautiful day I just unwrapped or, rather, that just unwrapped me.