Howling wind, tall grasses, a sky that can change in just moments from sparkling blue to threateningly black, and a sea air so salty you can taste it on your lips even if you don’t make it as far as the shore.
These are things that I think of when I imagine the place that I sometimes escape to.
It is a nature reserve on the coast that to some is desolate and lonely, but to me it is a place where the air somehow has more oxygen, where I can spend a few hours or a whole day and feel like my lungs – and some of my soul – have been cleansed.
There are some places that when you go on your own, can make you feel even more alone, or repressed by your solitude. And others, that even though they are large and rambling and exposed and bleak and you don’t see another person for ages, somehow make you feel cocooned, welcomed, like a part of the landscape, part of the nature, even if for just a short time.
Walking through boggy, marshy and salty ground full of pot-holes and mud that sticks your boots, should make you feel unwelcome, as though the earth is pushing you away.
And yet here, picking your way through the grasses, stopping to watch a hare leaping ahead of you, or birds in search of food for their young, hearing the squelch of your boots in the mud, here, it feels like the place is saying “come, see what I have, experience who I am, join us, for however long you can”.
And so I don’t feel alone there, I don’t care that I’m alone.
I want to feel the grasses and lick the salt on my lips and strain to hear the waves and keep striding forward, keep breathing in the welcome.
At home, alone, I am a tiny invisible speck that nobody sees.
There, I am still tiny and alone and yet a part of it, drawn into it, with lungs full of clean air and a head that loves the cold wind blowing right through it, blowing away cobwebs of loneliness and the shroud worn by the alone.