Last night I slept out under the full moon. The bright yellow orb of the Thunder Moon, as the July moon is known, shone between puffy clouds, illuminating the stark outline of a fallen tree and the ruins of a stone barn. As twilight fell, the first star of evening appeared in a dove soft sky above the darkening silhouette of a majestic oak.
I made a nest for myself beneath my favourite crab apple tree. My place was soft, warm and dry, but open to the stars and the moon. I know this tree well. She is a kind, ancient old lady who felt as if she would care for me and guard me through the night. I had no intention of trying to stay awake, just wanting to sink into my surroundings and drift into sleep with the arms of Mother Nature for a pillow.
On Sunday morning I had arisen with the feeling that I wanted to immerse myself in nature and now was the time. For the past few weeks and months, life has been busy and stressful. I felt disconnected from the natural rhythm of life and longed for some serenity. It has been dry and hot for several days, but I felt a change coming in the weather and now would be a good chance to have a sweet night that might not come again. As evening approached, the lazy, lethargic part of me said, ‘Why bother, when you can have a comfortable night at home in your bed?’ But the call of the wild was strong and I resolved to do it anyway.
It was just beginning to turn towards dusk as I made my way up the hill towards my chosen spot. The golden fronds of tall grasses waved in a gentle breeze. Harebells, clover and purple self-heal fringed my path. The birds were present in abundance, twittering and burbling as they made their way to a roost for the night. A buzzard flew overhead with a piercing cry of ‘Kee, kee, kee!’ As I settled myself down, a raven flapped his way to his resting place with his strange cry of, ‘Conk, conk,’ like hitting a metal pipe with a piece of wood. Just as everything quietened for the night, a screech owl let out it’s eerie cry and then silence and darkness fell together, the final curtain of the day.
I awoke with dawn’s first light and got up to see golden shafts of sun breaking the horizon over Stockley Hill. And just after dawn, I was greeted with the loud trilling call of a green woodpecker, as he flew across the hill top. The little birds – the tits, the sparrows, the blackbirds, thrushes and unidentifiable LBJs (little brown jobs), fluttered and twittered busily on their morning errands. I felt slightly disappointed to see not a single animal of the mammalian variety, not even a rabbit. I had thought that as I settled myself down and merged with nature, that the animals would become bold and all come out of their hiding places. Even a small creature which had snuffled and scratched in a patch of nettles nearby, remained hidden. It was only to be expected though, as I’d made so much noise blowing up my air bed that every animal in the valley knew exactly where I was. As I drifted into sleep, I entertained the romantic notion that I would awake to find myself surrounded by curious woodland creatures. Alas, this wasn’t to be either. Perhaps some unconscious snoring and farting had alerted them to my presence and made them stay away. Another disappointment was that I couldn’t even recall a magical dream to grace the night. But what I did get was the serenity I sought. I felt so peaceful and awed by the beauty of the dawn after such a sweet, soft night. This feeling of peacefulness has stayed with me through the day, along with a quiet confidence in my physical body to survive out in nature, despite the health and mobility issues that have beset me for so long. So I got exactly what I needed. I feel blessed and grateful that I could have this beautiful experience, less than 10 minutes from my home.