Mud on my face

Oops, my foot almost slips away. I quick­ly take a big step to regain my bal­ance. It’s tricky with Y. dan­gling between my out­stretched hands. He is sus­pend­ed above a pool of mud that reach­es my ankles. The back­pack on his back doesn’t make it any eas­i­er. It was his idea to bring it with him, so we put rice cakes and water in it. Thus equipped we set off for a lit­tle wood­land, only a 5 minute bike ride from our house.

SchaapThe path solid­i­fies again and Y. walks ahead of me, look­ing for the sheep. “Come sheep!” and sure enough, the sheep saun­ters our way. Y. is 2 years old and it is quite nor­mal for him to greet plants, ani­mals and objects. After a con­ver­sa­tion with the sheep, he runs on to the edge of the woodland.

It’s not sur­pris­ing that he always has more ener­gy than I do; he has just tak­en a nap while I was answer­ing urgent emails. I’ve been tired for a few weeks now, espe­cial­ly in the week­ends. Being busy is part of the deal when you have a job and a child, plus tasks with­in the eco-vil­lage. But some­times it seems to grow over my head.

The cow pars­ley at the edge of the wood has not yet grown over my head. It’s the last chal­lenge we have to over­come. Togeth­er we wade through the explo­sion of green and white into the wood. The wood! There is so much to see and do. For a moment we sit on the path to lis­ten to the trees. Y. has a stick with mud and makes a draw­ing on my face. We run on again. We bal­ance on a felled tree and look at the woodlice. I sit on a side branch and Y. pro­vides the pic­nic. He opens the bag him­self. “Like a drink?”

I am still tired, but for the first time today I feel it in my body. The thoughts run­ning around my head all day are choked by the tan­gle of net­tles, bram­bles, rot­ting wood, mush­rooms and buzzing insects. The frus­tra­tion about slow process­es, the stress about a dead­line, the things I should actu­al­ly be doing — the wind whis­per­ing in the trees blows it out of my mind.

I have land­ed in the real world, in the midst of the annu­al out­break of bound­less opti­mism. The life force flows from the earth and push­es the del­i­cate green leaves out of the dark wood. A Pen­te­costal pow­er. Y. is part of it with­out think­ing about it. It is won­der­ful to see him going about inde­pen­dent­ly, ful­ly in touch with every­thing around him. When we cycle away, cov­ered in mud, his last greet­ing is for the net­tles: “Sleep tight, net­tles”. I have had anoth­er mas­ter­class in play­ing outside.