Nature Writing,  Running,  Running Writing,  Writing

As The Driven Snow… a winter run

“The wood, under a winter storm.  A time when all creatures thought of good sense seek shelter of burrow or nest.  There remains though, dancing through the tempest,  a runner, chill of finger, wet of foot, wide of grin.”

Desk work day done.  Storms are building, both ADHD and weather.

So.  Night run.  Winter night run.

Headtorch, leggings and lifa, hardshell and hat.  Lock my door with glove clumsied fingers, quick step up the ginnel.  Grin growing on my face.  Couple of hundred metres of sleet slick pavement ‘twixt house and wood.  Most times a skippy dog walker dodging warmup, tonight it’s a lone stroll, chilling fingers and feet. 

The wood.  My local patch, a bright place of birch and willow and hawthorn hedge. Not this night though. This night it’s a wildwood waiting. Tonight the gate is a liminal space, a creaking transit from blandly civilised suburbia into an older place.  Into a dark wood galethrashed and sleetlashed.

Step through into the wood anyway.  Go, now. Go run.  

Middle path first. A narrow path, a twisty-turny slickmud slipmud path.  Torch spun shadows crowd around, dogging my steps.  Now left onto fox path, no fox tonight; they’re sensibly abed. But, eyes flash in leaf litter; scurry mouse hurry mouse.  Engrammed bow clicks in, to pass tall head beneath low bent willow branch, curve right onto badger path. 

Temperature starts falling; sleet becoming snow.  High branches whip and creak and crack louder in the quick rising gale. Past the badger’s smeuse, undergrowth trampled flat and clumps of grey hair snaggled in the shouldered aside wire.  Pick up the pace now. The path weaving ‘twixt swaying birch, every step and swerve familiar from long acquaintance. A stride chopping, feet slipping and skipping over snowslick leaf buried roots familiarity.  Left now onto the rabbit path; no shelter here, here both wood edge and hedge funnel the building storm.  Footsteps squelch in snow dusted semifreddo mud, a curving headlong hardwork hack into the sleet spitting galeteeth. Soon there’s the relief of turning again into the tree sheltered badger path.  Cold now, pick up the pace again. Run again, once more stride chopping, feet slipping and skipping over snow buried leafslick roots. Storm battered eyes squint sharp for the meadow path junction.

There.  Signpost birch glistening in the torchbeam. 

Turn into the meadow.  Bang.  Tonight the gentle meadow tonight welcomes with a howling vortex of storm swirled spindrift.  Run becomes struggling walk to the fox path junction.  Turn again, back into the tree’s shelter. Turn out of the gale to scamper back along the weaving alley of creaking, wind waved birch and willow, fox path to middle path to gate.

Stop the legs, slow the heart and breath.  Step again through the liminal gate, from wildwood back to blandly civilised suburbia.

A couple hundred metres away, through the snow, home calls.

The grin endures.