Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeling small in the scheme of things

Funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can put a little perspective upon one’s life. For a while now I’ve been in what only could be described as a brooding mood of late. It just seems that where ever I turn or what ever I attempt there’s always something awry which tempers any feeling of achievement or that life is heading the right way. Take this week (oh please do), for the first time that I care to remember I was actually looking forward to my pay packet, after struggling and scraping for ages, this was to be the first one which was not going to have to fight against a bank balance that was in the red and would give us the chance to dream a little more realistically about the future. But oh no, God farts in my general direction once more and hey presto the turbo has blown upon the not so much fun anymore cruiser, repair bill will be three figures oh just bleedin’ wonderful. ‘The grind’ has contrived all month to make my blood vessels burst with the incompetence of management and the ineptitude of some of my co-workers, so much so that for the first time in a long time I’ve been bringing my anger home, not big and not clever! These, with a myriad of other silver lineless clouds have contrived to make me a surly and moody bugger of late, and believe me when I say that’s not pleasant for the people who love and care for me as they tend to get the brunt of my moods without me even realising it.

So what’s shown me the bigger picture? What’s put life a little more into focus you ask? Just the simplest of things really; a walk through the woods on a very blustery morning with Lucy at my side (oh alright sprinting ahead denying me once more of any chance of bringing you pictures of woodland fauna!). It didn’t hit me like a bolt out of the blue, indeed it was sometime afterwards that life sat a little more comfortable upon my shoulders. Let me try to explain and make some sense of what I’m trying to say for you, if I can;

In keeping with my recent resolve to lesson my impact on our living planet we set off through the streets of Buckley heading towards the nearby footpaths around the crops of corn that surround Bluebell woods. A mile into the walk our feet (and paws) left the tarmac of the road and headed down the access track to the sewerage works that border the corn fields. Already it felt as if something was amiss, the usual long grass between the tracks ruts was flattened and muddy, a little further on clear evidence of the culprits could be seen; about a dozen sloppy n still very fresh cowpats. At this point we’d come level to the corn as the track opens out to it with no dividing fence, what should have been a seemingly impenetrable border of corn, eight foot high, had been laid to waste over large areas with what resembled masses of vole runs blasting there way through the field, only these were cow size voles! Thing is I know where these cow came from, an adjacent field just a little further down the track. We moved on until the gateway of the field came into view where a distraught and very angry farmer was repairing the smashed remains of the gates fixing mechanism. It turns out that some local kids had thought that it would be a blast to release the cows, instead of playing on their X boxes or hanging around street corners trying to look menacing. Funny thing though that amongst the cows was a hired bull, which had apparently put the fear of god into the kids as he came through the herd hell for leather scattering them like so much chafe before a wind, pity he didn’t catch up to couple of them. But for me there was another downside, the footpaths around the fields were now basically impassable, one because they resemble a battlefield after artillery action and secondly there was still a herd of escapee cows and one pissed off bull hidden in the corn, not the place for me or a bog monster then. So we turned tail and headed home, disconsolate and in an even darker mood.

We trudged back up my driveway, where Lucy plonked her arse down by the cruiser (notice no fun) and looked at me as if to say “is that it then?” Well the cruiser is still drivable; albeit as flat as a pancake, so with thoughts of planetary concern as far as way as they could be we loaded up and headed towards Nercwys woods, at a very sedate speed I might add.

Even at this point the day had only served to darken my mood with no shining light of inspiration lighting my path. The first part of the walk took us through an area where the pines had been cleared about three years ago, overflowing along the pathway’s edges were swathes of plants that had dominated the area up until the man made pine forest had stole the light from them back in the 1960’s. Now with only the youngest of pine trees to compete with the old moorland plants such as heathers, gorse and bilberries burst forth drawing a more diverse range of fauna to the forests edges.

Upon entering the established woods  only the odd, light starved, vestige of plants that had once dominated the surrounding hills could be seen, with the forest floor now dominated with shade loving fern, fungi and smothering carpets of moss and lichens prospering in the dank, dark conditions. 

But as I continued on with Lucy now dripping with detritus from her latest mire find (should that be dire mire find?) I realised something about these woods that had nipped at my thoughts for a while but had never risen to consciousness; that these woods were new and young with no age whatsoever. Yes they were tall and dark in places and could be a great backdrop to a film about were-wolfs, you should walk here at dusk with a light breeze making the branches rub and the trees talk – you’d see, and compared to me they were oldish, truth be told about the same age. But they are not old, not when you compare them to the small areas of deciduous forests down south or the remains of the mighty redwoods across the pond. They are just another crop to be harvested by man, nothing more, they don’t even consist of trees native to this small island and so add little to the wild make up of it. Six thousand years ago Britain was covered in what we call today the great wildwood, a forest that stretched from the cliffs of Dover to the highlands of Scotland. Now that would have been a wood worth walking through, where the trees could have told stories that went back even more thousands of years. Where boar, wolf, bear and wild cat roamed unhindered and the tapestry of life was rich beyond compare. Now we just have the vestiges of woodlands to wander through and are so much, I feel the poorer for it. This land has seen many changes since the great woods were felled, from Victorians mining the limestone here for its lead, to masses of sheep grazing windswept moors.

And how has this helped me you ask, it made me realise that on another scale my life and its problems, imagined or otherwise, does not really make a jot of difference to this world. When mankind is long gone, just like the heathers bursting anew from underneath the false woods shadow then the flora and fauna that make this planet so amazing will burst forth and once more find a balance. My troubles are small and irrelevant in the scheme of this planet, the best thing that I can do is smile, inwardly as well as outwardly, and face each day as a challenge, a challenge to show my love for my loved ones and a challenge to heal some little of the hurt of this world. Will I still have dark thoughts? Of course I will but there will be less and less of them as my journey goes on.

Thank you for reading this perhaps self indulgent post, sometimes though I find ‘speaking’ to faceless friends here in blogsville a way of sorting some of my thoughts out (although they still probably don’t make sense to you, the reader!) Oh and when the cruiser has its turbo fixed and can once again be called fun, if you know of some ancient or at least very old deciduous woodland that would welcome a bog monster and her long suffering companion onto its magical paths.......

Your friend,



Casey said...

Hello John. I have a few pieces of wisdom for you.

1. Leave work at work. Imagine me being a jerk as I say that to you.

2. Please hit the woods more often before your mood runs foul. Maybe that would smooth edges some. I know that may be impossible with the way the grind can go, but that is all it is really - the grind.

3. We ARE dust in the wind - I know so cliche.

4. But, this is the best advice I can give you right now : copy and paste this URL into your browser and start reading -


If THAT doesn't brighten your world and bring you optimistic enthusiasm for life again, e-mail me and I'll work on something else.

Take care -


P.S. Even through the gloom, I love the pics you were able to take.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

So the moral of the story is, sometimes you have to drive a ways to find happiness. That's totally ok, and NOT so self-indulgent. I find YOUR ramblings to help me sort out some of mine - and find comfort in knowing that brooding is a universally shared art, both here AND across the pond.
Wishing us BOTH sunnier days, and thoughts!

Leigh said...

Its odd how a completely different wild world puts perspective to our own world. (Thats why I love the woods)

Glad to hear you found your silver lining. ;)

Le Loup said...

Bloody brilliant, you never cease to amaze me John.
Regards, Keith.

Frugal Life UK said...

Thanks for that, love a read of the old bloggypoos and even life's crap has its place.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Great pix fella

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

John, Isn't that the way things go?...just when you think you're caught up, and even going to get ahead.....WHAM! Something smacks you up side the head and sets you back again. Hard to keep a positive attitude sometimes, but just do what I do. Think of all the people who have it so much worse. Believe me, you can always find them! Homeless, hungry, alone. I suffer none of these. I feel lucky most of the time.

One more note, look at your muddy cow print pic. Tilt your head to the left. See the butterfly?

Wolfy said...

Its difficult t ocomment on this post. Well writen and entertaining (as always).

I often find that the unexpected chance encounter is what lends clarity to my oft tainted, myopic view of the world. Never where I expect (or at least, rarely where I expect it). Some thing or some event pops up and reminds me that my problems aren't really earth-shattering, the sun WILL rise again, and I MAY find reason to smile someday.

And, I know I'll always smile when I read your latest musing!


Damn The Broccoli said...

If you ever find yourself in Sheffield, Ecclesall wood is the place to be.

It comprises some ancient woodland which may or may not contain some of the old wild wood. Not the original of course but the deciduous descendants thereof.

I believe Ancient woodland classes anything over about 400 years old as that marks the start of the first domesticated planting as it were. You can find evidence of coppicing and charcoal burning all around as well and there is a wild bird reserve buried in the middle as well!

Cause, that's one long trot in the Cruiser though.

Murphyfish said...

To all,
Apologies for the late posting of your comments, tis have been a day of organisation and much to do so just have a quick few minutes before the call of sleep reaches me.

Thanks for your pearls of wisdom, no chance yet to follow the link, guess it’ll be the weekend now before opportunity presents itself. I was planning to drop you a line next week in any case, don’t want to lose touch my friend.

I’m sure that the sunnier days are upon the horizon for the both of us, truly happy that my blog gives others such as your good self some help or comfort of some kind.

Hey Leigh,
True words me dear, sometimes nature can just smooth away worries and bring much needed perspective back to our view of the world.

Thank you my friend, your words mean a great deal to me.

I guess without the crap of life the good things would be difficult to appreciate, thanks for stopping by.

A pleasure old bean, glad you enjoyed. Meant to ask earlier: any decent ‘old’ woods your way?

Hi Karen,
Your right of course, no matter how much I wallow in self pity there is always somebody else much worse off than I; guess its back to that perspective thing again. Now you come to mention it there is a butterfly shape to the cow’s muddy footfall, well who’d have thought beauty from a foot print in slime!

Hello Wolfy,
Thanks for the comment, guess we’re very much upon the same wavelength you and I my good man, glad that I can still bring a smile.

To all,
Cheers for the comments as always they are welcome and warming.

Murphyfish said...

Hey Damn,
Just about to log off when I spied your comment, must have sneaked through whilst answering t'others.
Ecclesall wood eh? cheers for the heads up, just might try to organize an overnighter this autumn or next spring, any 'bog monster' friendly accommodation that also serves good grub and a reasonable brew up that way to be recommended?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Hmm not that old where i live now, I'm guess Epping Forrest is relatively new, but last weekend i was out a Oxley's Wood with the ankle biters, and some of that is very old.


Anonymous said...

I read your post and then saw this, so I must share:

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

Chin up, my friend. Chin up.

Murphyfish said...

Thanks for stopping by my friend, I can always depend upon you to lift my spirits.

forestwalk/laura k said...

nature. the natural healer!
nothing like a long walk in the woods...breathing the air and feeling the breeze...watching very closely...all the tiny movements beneath our feet...well, hopefully not BENEATH, but scurrying away...
all the little things...we can easily miss if we don't open our eyes...and minds...

just THINKING about all this can help to relax...

life certainly has its ups and downs...sometimes we just have to try to hang on with everything we've got...it always gets better, even if it seems impossible...

thanks for your thoughts...musings... :]

Murphyfish said...

Hey Laura,
Welcome to my incoherent ramblings ;-) and thank you for sharing your thoughts and taking the time comment.

Damn The Broccoli said...

Hi Murphy,
Sadly it is some years since I let sheffield so I can't remember anywhere that might be useful. Sheffield is a big place so there is bound to be somewhere though.

Drop me and email if you go, I could recommend a few places to visit and there are some insanely tame grey squirrels in the botanical gardens. I doubt even the bog monster would bother them! So you might just get that wildlife shot you want.

BeMistified said...

Just beautiful and completely awesome. I really liked the mushrooms.

Murphyfish said...

Hi Damn,
Cheers for the offer, probably be next year now before I'm a wandering (toyota turbos cost the earth)

Hello BeMistified,
Welcome to my humble meanderings, glad you like them.


Gorges Smythe said...

Trying to maintain your sanity is hardly self-indulgent. Good post. (Except maybe for the "God farted" part!) :-)

Murphyfish said...

Mr. Smythe,
No blasphemy meant, glad you enjoyed the post.