At the height of the pandemic we were under total lockdown here in Aotearoa. The Government allowed us to leave the house only for necessities and local exercise with those we lived with, our ‘bubble’. We are fortunate to live at the foot of a series of hills covered in native bush, this became an escape, a remedy for the rampant ennui that settled in during our time of isolation.
Our bush walks became a pilgrimage of sorts. A bid to escape the banal repetitiveness of home, an attempt to hide.
At the time it felt like there was a lot to hide from; news reports, the internet, grief, a bizarre expectation that we use this time to learn new skills, Zoom calls, instagram photos of everyone making bread, the fear of death.
Daily, we sought the earthly comfort of dirt. Muddy smears a welcome cleanse from bitter sanitiser. Motivated by the most basic desire for fresh air, we climbed muddy paths, woody unmarked tracks.
Eventually we would emerge above our city dazed and squinting in dappled light. Up in the realm of cicadas and tūī, free to pant and gasp unmasked and unafraid.
Most days we didn’t feel like going. Didn’t have the emotional energy required to take off slippers, put on sock and shoes, outside clothes. But it became a necessity. We would wither and dissolve at home watching the news, constant bad news.
For hours in the company of trees we forgot the enormity of the pandemic as we inspected shadows, fungus, a snail.
Delighting in marks we made in the mud as we slipped through slush after a period of rain.
At home we could barely notice the usual scents of domestic rot. Here in the bush musky animal smells became evidence of our good health.
We could breathe, we could smell.
We grasped at every tree trunk, caressed every leaf, twig. Embraced a gentle lick from a fern, punctures from insects and broken twigs. Every texture became a wonder to our starving hands. Later, at home we would find splinters, bruises, cuts. Relief, evidence of time spent outside our walls.
Startled by flapping, screeching, eerie twig snapping, the pounding of our own hearts.
We relished the sounds we were so used to blocking out.
Our senses under assault.
We were feeling again.
Libya first encountered God as a teenager at a Baptist church at 15 years old. She now identifies as a non-denominational Christian. Libya enjoys robust discussion about faith, as well as reading novels, and rooibus tea.Discover more from Libya Kate.