This month, I have been repeatedly coaxed from my bunker by the low Winter sun intermittently working its way through clouds, juxtaposing moments of epic crepuscular light with subdued blanket whiteness in a way that’s only possible at this time of the year.
December has hosted day long battles of fire and ice, of deep red and bleak white. From dark grey storms, to clear golden sunrises, with rainbows galore, and leaky clouds never far away, this marrying of the morose and majestic is one of my favourite Wintery feelings.
Walks this month have been about quality rather than quantity. In these dark days of late December, I have been taking the opportunity to rest and dream, an organic plan making machine is quietly running in the background, attempting to work out a method of approach on 2021, but my immediate focus is on rest and recuperation.
At this time last year I was looking forward to a 2020 of tree walks, retreats, live gigs and workshops, it really was about to be a great year. I know this is a familiar story for many and, whether we like it or not, we are currently pacing through a period of collective reorientation. That’s not to say that this year’s tree walks haven’t been a great success. I am not so married to my expectations that I can’t see the benefit of things not having gone to plan, the bright side, as it were.
The tree walks have been what they have needed to be, an important point of contact for people at a time where opportunities to meet are few and far between and opportunities to hear live music even fewer.
For those who haven’t been able to travel to Avalon, I hope my efforts as a virtual bard have provided a window in image, music and word. I feel like it’s an extra facet that has grown out of this time, a new medium of creative communication. To The Trees is like some sort of ongoing, interactive, ‘docu-soap’ about one person’s relationship with the landscape. A growing number of people are finding it an enjoyable experience to observe this bardic broadcast, perhaps it provides some vicarious relief at this time. It is my honour.
These months have allowed me to follow my natural passions and familiar paths. Walking is an activity that seems, at least to some extent, to be virus proof. The tree walks have largely resisted the recent impositions on our liberties, Avalon has cocooned us in its little green hollows, held us in its sweeping boughs and provided ground on which we can keep our circles running.
Despite the distractions, a lack of motivation, and the ambient anxiety, a steady flow of creative material has risen from this year. A selection of photographs that I’m rather proud of, the most popular of which are reviewed later in this newsletter, and an interesting illustration project that I plan to reveal in the Spring.
Songs have been few and far between, but two complete tracks: ‘Meet Me Over There’, and ‘Fall Into My Hands’, as well as my own version of ‘The Linden Tree’ by Franz Schubert, have made it onto my set list. You can hear these songs on my latest live performances via Facebook.
This year, we were not allowed to fly as high as we’d hoped, but that has had a grounding effect, it’s making our world smaller and more manageable, it’s drawn our attention into different things, allowed nature to provide some orientation, and in many cases has afforded us the opportunity to take a long hard look at how our lives could be led more responsibly.
I can’t say as this year has been an entirely negative experience, it’s brought me even closer to nature and encouraged me to explore new ways of expressing myself. I have dedicated more time to writing about nature and spent more time alone in nature than I otherwise would have done. This has inspired new avenues of learning and new opportunities for the development of activities that help others to engage with and be inspired by nature too.
Onward, into 2021
My plans for 2021? To take each month as it comes, to release expectation and to embrace what might seem on the surface like a catastrophe, but, the longer I look at it, is perhaps a blessing in disguise. It is a shame this blessing has to come in such a mismanaged pile of buffoonery, but again, this teaches me to release judgement, and consider this big mess as a necessary means to an end.
My New Years resolutions? To continue in the similar vein, to focus on those bits of my world that really matter, the people that are closest to me, the community I am a part of. I hope that by reiterating the things that are of importance and seem to form a bedrock for my own sanity, that is: nature, creativity, community, we can keep our priorities focused and our circles tight.
Good luck in 2021, I will continue to walk in Avalon, and broadcast to those who can’t, if this were to be my last purpose in life I would be at least partially resolved in death.
Matt’s Walking Playlist
I like to listen to music when I walk, especially on my morning Tor walks. Here’s a playlist of my most popular songs from this year. From my favourites, Bill Callahan and Midlake to new found loves Damien Jurado and Cass McCombs, there’s a mixture of songs for all seasons and moods.
Here’s a link to the playlist on Spotify: MATTS WALKING PLAYLIST 2020 – 21
Bring the outside in!
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