‘Covidly Walking’: drawing with my boots on the hill
The Covid Walking project arose as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the
resulting UK Lockdown imposed in March 2020.
Covidly Walking evolved around a hill, Tam Beith (Beith, Gaelic for Birch). It is the hill opposite my house and for years I have been walking Tam Beith from my door.
I walk in all weathers and all seasons, usually very early in the morning. In winter I often start walking before dawn. The 3 or 4 mile walk follows the river Don, climbs through the birch forest and onto moor. There are Scots Pine on the summit.
By repeatedly walking the same route, naming and linking landmarks, I created a new path.
tam beith 411 is the book I made with poems and imagery musing on this oft-repeated journey.
At the beginning of February 2020 an awareness of this new and rapidly growing pandemic grew.
I was following it in China, Spain and Italy with a feeling
of anxiety about what we were about to encounter in the UK. It was a shock to
learn of the death on Feb 7th of a young whistle-blowing Chinese doctor who
tried to warn the world about the severity of this novel SARS virus.
From around the end of February, the way I walked Tam Beith became more spontaneous. I began letting go… not deciding exactly where I was going. … wandering into the undergrowth …. from birch tree to grassy hollow.
I was noticing more in exploring the microcosmic environment in this way: the
shape of a tree, a mossy stone…the light that penetrated the dark forest.
There was a calmness and peace that it brought.
Lockdown Mar 23rd
Every day became a blank canvas.
In dense woodland, it is hard to know exactly where you have been.
One day in early March I decided to find out by recording my journey with my phone. The red line felt good. A positive mark.
I was drawing with my boots on the hill and the land was drawing itself through me. Then the next day again. Every day for 100 days I recorded my walks and mapped them.
Eventually, faint paths appeared from places I had repeatedly walked and crossed over.
Words came into my head, in rhythm and rhyme with the pace of walking and my breath.
15 walks for 15 days
its peaceful making these lines
skylarks and snowshowers
on the moor yesterday
April 13 2020
24 walks for 24 days
drawing lines with my boots
between Don and Deskry
52 walks for 52 days
June 27 2020
100 walks for 100 days
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