No no nooooo! Arms windmilling wildly, I pull my left foot out of the thick goopy bog and try to reclaim my balance. On one leg, bent at the waist, I appear to be attempting to re-enact some kind of swan-lake ballet move, but without the graceful part. It appears that a muddy faceplant is almost in progress but a full-on splashdown belly flop also appears to be a strong option.
Yep, it would appear that I have got myself into an ‘interesting’ situation. Again!
Things like this are always happening to me at this time of the year, everything is just so enthralling and I have to get close to it. The sparkle of the dew-covered golden leaf lured me right off a perfectly good path like an autumnal will-o-the-wisp. Now here I am, and it’s looking very likely that I’m about to get a very chilly (but free!) full-body mud-pack experience.
Normally, I love nothing more than being high up in the mountains. Delighting in the steep drops on either side of a ridge, or the summit views fading into the horizon. This time of year however, as Autumn tussles with Winter, I just can’t get enough of the woodland trails and their hidden treasures.
Every walk is a voyage of discovery into the world of the tiny. The last yellow leaf on a twig, a final bright shock of grass catching a stray sunbeam, the spider’s web sparkling rainbows in midair. After the huge fanfare of bright Autumn colours this is the time of small things, forcing you to slow down and study the beautiful details.
There is something incredibly invigorating and enthralling about this season. The brisk changes as the trees relinquish their last leaves and the tempestuous light highlighting a new miniature wonder at every step. There is a real sense of urgency to see all these little things before it changes into a different Wintery beauty, disappears away with the chilly winds, or is covered by the first snow.
A wander that would normally take maybe half an hour ridiculously stretches out into enough time to completely freeze the tip of my nose and fill my phone camera reel. The rhythm goes something along the lines of step step step ooh!, step step wow! If it was a dance it would be a slow one, but with excited little jumps (don’t think Strictly would be impressed).
The photos and mental pictures that come out of these jaunts are the fuel for creativity to burst into life later. They are always the starting point for stitching stories together, pairing images and discovering new inspiring fragments. Always so many bright puzzle pieces to play with, notebooks so stuffed with ideas that I would need years to implement them all. An abundance of awe-inspiring natural beauty to be found, even in a single tree. Explore a whole garden or a hillside and you could spend days (if you had a rucsac full of food and were immune to cold that is).
Please tell me that I’m not the only person who abandons the path for the view from the boggy tussocks, who sits so long watching an industrious wee bird that your bum goes numb and your fingers forget how to work properly. For me these mini adventures and discoveries are not about taking the actual photographs (which would be a much better justification for the crazy predicament I am in!), but kind of a form of inspiring mindfulness and appreciation of the incredible riches of beauty that surround us.
This time the sparkling leaf that lured me into the boggy depths is completely worth the muddy foot and elbow (don’t ask, it definitely wasn’t a ballet move). I’m smiling as I squelch home, chuckling as I remember the incident that taught me to lace my shoes tighter on these trips, and already planning a new page in my sketchbook. In fact the explorations are always worth it, what could be better than a brain bursting with inspirations and wonderful mental images to take back to the everyday world?
Take time to enjoy your own mini adventures. You don’t have to leave the path (in fact I would really advise avoiding the bogs, health & safety seconds that!). Bring your camera as an excuse and a reminder to go slow and look in the tiny nooks and crannies. Allow the will-o-the-wisps to pull your attention to the miniature jewels of the wild, I promise that they will fill your head with sparkles in any season.