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Maija Liepins





New territories

Written 2017-01-06

21 Sept 16

I'm interested in how people move through natural places in search for something, for me I seek the wild. I approached the woods and was immediately satisfied with an element of risk. Wildness has a risk, a balance to it. You've got to rely on yourself and your ability to read your environment and learn it.

Before me lies a bank with a slide of loose rocks and boulders. I made my way down testing for loose rocks before giving my weight. At one point a mossy tree trunk swallows my leg whole and my eyes widen as my leg descends into the dark cavernous unknown. I withdraw it, check for beasties, and then see before me a small creek. It has just a trickle of water at the bottom but it's a shin length deep with mud at the bottom and wide. I search for a narrow crossing, pulled onward for the search for deeper wood, a wilder undertone.

I let my waterproof jacket protect me from the neck height foliage I vaguely suspect is poisonous, swiping it aside with synthetic clad arms and stomping it beneath my feet to make a path, determined to reach the tall autumnal birch with their pale trunks.

I find a log to sit upon to listen to the nearby rustling and tweeting and decide what to do next. Something calls from behind me and when I follow the call I am surprised to be drawn to a dark pine copse where mushrooms grow in the mulchy leaf and soil that shifts beneath my feet like ash and soil over old bones. I'm walking on the platelets of a dead creatures back.

I find a tree I want to listen to and it takes awhile to get to her pushing through the needle-less lower branches. And lastly I find another birch and pine cluster to huddle in, sheltered from eyes, looking out into the fading light. Space for contemplation.

I try to take a shortcut back before dark only to find the steep bank I just climbed leads to a fence lined by dense weed. I realise I need to retrace my footsteps as the light drains from the woods taking colour with it. The bank I just climbed is steeper than the one I started with, but I slide fast, skating on the flats of my shoes, riding low, ready to bum slide and swinging from nearby branches and tree trunks to control descent. It's at this point that I am reminded of the "going on a bear hunt" book, the second half, where footsteps are retraced in haste.

Now I stomp through foliage, swipe through the branches, jump over the creek, scramble up the stones. I can barely see, or rather am barely looking, just feeling the fall of my feet and judging where to step, swing or grasp next. The route is known, the landscape recognised, and I trust the branches to hold me, the earth and rock to receive my step, my body to balance my weight and momentum. I reach the top of the rockfall and burst out of the tree lin

I made it! And Now, as I write this, (savouring my last snatch of solitude) I am facing a round orange moon rising disk-like above a sillohette of pines and in soft dark blue.


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Diary

2017

January (1)