I went for a walk today.
It is pouring rain: a perfect April day!
I was prepared to be soaked even though I had slip-proof rain boots, rain pants, a Made-in-England Raincoat, and wool to keep out the cold if I did get soaked.
The air was damp and warm, like the steam above your teacup. Despite the rain, the forecast is that today will be unseasonably warm.
There was no one else on the path I took, but the lost mittens, discarded Easter Egg wrappers, and dumped water bottles were evidence that many people had been out the three sunnier days of the weekend.
But I am keeping rigid physical distance from others and that’s easier to manage on a rainy April Day when everyone else is enjoying the last lie-in of the long weekend.
This six kilometre walk is the furthest I have been away from my home since March 10. The most I have travelled since then until today are the 0.7 kilometres between my house and the hospital where I work.
This short walk that curls my hair beyond all hope of taming and chills me despite the unseasonal warmth is a journey beyond where I had hoped to travel. It was like one of those walks with a young child, when you go to a trail and tell them they can pick the path. Your first stop is ten yards from home where the first snowdrops and scilla are poking through, hungry for the rain.
You can spend several minutes there and then your little guide suddenly jumps ups and tears down the path like the fastest locomotive while you struggle to keep up because you are caught off guard with the speed of departure. The next thing you come to makes no sense at all. It is a broom, propped against a tree. It is there for…sweeping away the last cobwebs of winter??
Finally, on the last stretch of your short journey, you look across the field, not yet plowed, its windbreak unblossomed and unleaved.
There is a philosophy, Slow Travel, that holds that travel might more of a therapeutic journey than an escape. With COVID-19 making travel in the close confines of planes, trains and many boats impossible – maybe even unthinkable – for the near future, it is easier to come to terms with the idea of a walk being therapeutic.
For me this means that I will walk in the rain. I will walk the distance between the hospital and home. I will walk like a toddler, healed by small revelations close to home.