Walking across a particularly large and muddy ploughed field on a particularly cold and windy day, watching the red-tailed hawks circling, listening to the wind blow through the bare trees, in the bleakness, the grey, the stark, startling beauty, I thought, "I'm here to purge and nest." There is an element of sobriety too. It's about feeling grateful for what you have, not needing too much, living cleanly and within your means, making simple, good food, reading a lot, thinking a great deal, working hard. The sobriety comes into play when you've made a great leap, taken a great risk, landed happily, but then being intent on making it work and not taking it for granted.
Yesterday I took my dogs, my Los Angeles dogs, my jetlagged companions, around the wood that was ours when I was a child. Past the chalky badger sets, and where we used to see foxes, the place where the hellebores grow, the fence we used to write on with chalk, the piece of flinty hillside that reminded me of Watership Down, the ridge we went brambling on our ponies. We clambered over stiles and I lifted the bigger dog over fences the small one could wriggle under. Their minds were blown. Every taste, smell, sight, sound completely and utterly new. And then when it settles, as it does, that melding of you and nature, when your ego is flattened and you realize, quite profoundly that you are part of something bigger, and that you are a cog, a happy, insignificant, beautiful cog, then I realized that it wasn't by mistake that I was there, that my dogs were there, that my happy place of my childhood had collided with my happy place of adulthood. And that is quite something. These things happen in dreams; you know the ones when all your favorite things are in one place, incongruously. Chocolate cake and unicorns and flying down the stairs and the soft underside of a dog belly and being kissed for the first time and your soulmate, all wrapped into something tied with a pink ribbons, filled with softness, kindness, angelic music. And it was fleeting, of course, but it registered. This is all of your happiness, all together; don't blow it.
This house is painted white inside, and the beams are lovely and bleached out. The floors are higgledy-piggledy and the roof looks like that of a witch's house in a fairytale. But inside, it feels as warm and kind as any house I've known. Nothing odd or eerie about it, despite being built in the 17th century; it feels honest, open. In the morning if it's not foggy, you can see the pink light of the sun through the tiny panes of the bedroom window. Today there was frost, hoar-frost and the grass was crystalline-white and crunchy. I put the dogs in their jackets and we walked a long way, till my mouth and nose and cheeks were frozen, through different parts of the treasure map: the Heritage trail, the Christmas tree farm, Hawridge Common, the Iron Age Fort. We're in a giant video game, filled with horses and trees, and tree sprites, and forces of good. The ugly stuff we try to keep at bay by reducing the amount of time spent online.
Tej, my kundalini yoga teacher, and whom I've mentioned here before (oh, wow, this is very stream of consciousness, forgive me) said about a year ago in class, right when Obama was at peak popularity and it looked as if Hillary's win was a given, that there would be something bad that would happen in the world, and that we had to prepare ourselves, make ourselves spiritually strong, so that we would be able to deal with it. It was a weird thing to say, and unlike her. She isn't a psychic or a fortune-teller, nor does she pretend to be. But more than that, I couldn't even imagine what she was talking about. The world seemed pretty good. The gay marriage ban had been lifted. LGBT rights were front and centre, women's issues were important. The world seemed to be more aware, more loving, more kind. I was chilled by her pronouncement. And now here we are, living in the midst of such malevolence, lies, hatred, bigotry. The dark forces were unleashed and they're swirling amongst us.
So, once again, sobriety, or measure, I'd prefer to call it. Taking stock of what's around us, finding joy in the natural world, loving those we love fiercely and completely, and watching them transform. Only love. Only love. Only love. I see no other way.
And purging also includes shaking the city that was for so long, the center of everything for me. I wonder if the dogs have the same experience? New place, new sherriff? You know? The behaviour that we found acceptable in LA maybe isn't quite as embraced here? The world is smaller. People in small, muddy cars like yours stop in narrow lanes and indicate with their fog lamps that they would like you to pass. They thank you when you do the same for them.
My dogs are sleeping, on their beds by the radiator, and so must I.