hello! Sorry to disappear there: sometimes a migraine can really slay me, and that’s definitely been the case with this one. As well as feeling utterly exhausted, I’ve really needed to rest my eyes, so I have spent most of this past week away from the computer screen. It is funny how not sitting at a desk can seem like a holiday, but in an odd way that’s how the past few days have felt to me, sitting in shed 1 with my books and my knitting.
In the small space of shed 1 over the past week, my physical horizons have contracted even further, and I found myself thinking more generally about the shared experience of living within a dramatically reduced radius during lockdown.
Single weekly shopping trip aside, Tom and I have not used the car, and have only walked or run within a radius of 3 miles (me) or 5 miles (Tom) from our front door. Unlike some notable others, we’ve not felt the need to go for long drives to test our eyesight. . .
We know we are very fortunate where we live, especially because our location gives us so many options for daily pottering on foot. Walking for an hour from our front door, we encounter so many different species of birds and animals (one day I might try to list them all) and enjoy a great variety of landscapes: from ancient woodland to modern forestry, from well-worn footpaths to bare hillside, from the lush, meandering view east down the Blane Valley to the spectacular westward scenes across the Highlands and the Trossachs.
Over the seven years that we’ve lived here, Tom and I have developed our own names for the different routes we take on foot from our front door. It occurred to me today how this shared nomenclature constitutes an entirely unofficial – but for us, completely legible – map of our surrounding landscape. For example, if Tom says to me that he’s off out for a run with the dogs “the back way up the Whangie” I can picture him in space and time for the next hour or two, while my mentioning “the lightning tree” or “the twisted hawthorn” would allow Tom to differentiate between two of my shorter and longer walks.
I asked Tom to draw me a map of some of our routine routes from our front door, with their names. Some routes are versions of others (“to the rock and back” for example, is a curtailed version of “to the Beech Tree and back”) while other routes are defined by a particular destination “to the pigs”; “to the lightning tree” etc). Tom overlaid our routes over an OS map, and though accuracy was not the priority here, each radial line is about 1km.
I like Tom’s map, as a record of our shared local nomenclature, and the routine radius of our feet and bodies over the past few lockdown months, a time which I think I’m going to look back on in retrospect as a period of strange resourcefulness, expansive, creative thought, and a renewed belief in the importance of making good things that one believes in, perhaps especially against the context of the weird horror of the wider world. So somehow Tom’s map also makes me think about what my experience of disability has also taught me: that physical limitation does not mean generally limited horizons.