The mere mention of the ‘W’ word sends me into a mini rage

Remember when we only had rides? Those stupid little government mandated 2 mile radius walks that were, I supposegood for our physical and mental health and has probably given us food for thought, between joggers spitting in our faces and parents insisting on taking their kids out in the sun.

I think those walks could have ruined my walk, forever. At one point during the height of the pandemic when I was dying my hair pink and buying Shakti rugs online (mine has been in the heat press with the roller skates and crochet kit since ), I considered getting my friend #AFW tattooed for Another F**king Walk on my hand. (She had also done some heavy shopping on the internet and purchased and perfected a stick-and-poke tattoo kit.)

At least when walks were a national community pastime there was some kind of incentive to get out and do them. Now the mere mention of the W-word sends me into a mini-rage fueled by obligation and personal responsibility. After two years of AFW, isn’t it enough to just lay on the couch and let episodes of Yellowjackets overwhelm me while playing Wordle?

No, is the simple answer.

The inconvenient truth is that with mindless walks comes exposure to the gory nature. Inspiring, renewing, reliable, colorful, nature lickarsey. I know that nature is good for me. I have sought it so often in times of stress or distress. My regular pandemic builds around Imma’s Gardens in Kilmainham with my friend Esther were restorative, as we followed the explosion of buds and flowers and discussed which of our houseplants were currently dying. It’s hard to come back to this place now that the walks are no longer the focus of the day. But I really need to get back to nature.

Nature walks were the most exciting events ever held at the school, eclipsed only by the school’s annual visit

So I’m thinking of regressing and starting a nature table in my living room. My primary school memories put nature’s table on such a high pedestal that I have no idea how I put my wilted snowdrops there. It was a focal point of the classroom, moaning at various times of the year with hips and haws, daffodils, pine cones, leaves, seashells and St Brigid’s crosses.

Now, with Imbolc right behind us, it’s the perfect time to get a grown-up version of a spring nature table on the go. Emma Mitchell’s beautiful book, The Wild Remedy – a kind of journal documenting the flora and fauna that appear each month and how nature can heal – tells me that snowdrops will probably be number one on my “table”. with cherry plum blossoms, pussy willow and primrose. February also sees the first of the bees emerge and while I will resist being a nature terrorist trying to catch one, I may attempt to paint one with the watercolors I excitedly purchased at the second containment.

I’ll have to have a keen eye and try to arm myself with knowledge beyond how to tell a daffodil from a weed, and I’ll also have to resist bringing home whatever I can fill my pockets with. A friend once told me about her first experience with a childminder when she placed her daughter in daycare. The woman in question had one absolute rule for when she and her five or six charges were on the move: no sticks or stones to bring into the house. My friend said she fully understands the footing on this question, after seeing how much litter her only child can pick up on a walk in the park. Likewise, nature’s table at school groaned under the weight of all the beautiful leaves and shining conkers each fall.

I will need to be selective and varied on my own nature walks. By the way, the nature walks were the most exciting events ever held at school, eclipsed only by the annual school visit and the accompanying bags full of shit to devour on the bus. I remember convincing a sixth-grade English teacher to break the monotony of Leaving Cert Shakespeare and go for a “nature walk.” Fortunately, he was a smoker and happy to indulge in an unauthorized cigarette break.

My table will actually be a tray, I think. A woven wooden thing I got at Søstrene Grene with great plans to hold my skincare on it like the chic women on Instagram do. At the moment it houses a variety of correspondence regarding my Tesco Clubcard and car insurance, as well as the additional items for the new Hoover I received for Christmas. I’m gonna have to find a new home for Hoover parts. A second tray, perhaps?

Either way, I feel energized to get out and walk again now that I have such a healthy goal. If you see a headline stating “Woman Arrested After Kidnapping Phoenix Park Deer”, you’ll know I’ve gone too far.

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