Monday, March 7, 2011

Walking, food for the soul?

Now before you all start getting your hopes up, no this is going to be a deep and meaningful spiritual post (perish the thought) and yes it’ll still be the same aimless drivel that my blog is becoming renowned for – you have been warned. It goes without saying that just because my post titles are improving (took hours of thought this one) does not mean that the content will. So once more unto the breach dear reader and prepare for more of….er… well more of the same really.

Friday morning, the day after the last night shift of the rota and the Grumpster arises from his one hundred and twenty minutes (sounds so much more than saying; two paltry hours) of slumber. No hang on a minute, slumber denotes that I had two wonderful hours of the deepest of sleep, pah more like two hours of fitful restlessness and fidgeting. Anyway I digress, Friday morning and the Grumpster arises from the pit of sleeplessness having subsequently gained a pitiful amount of rest after his list night shift of the rota. Ah the Grumpster, the Mr. Hyde to my usual beaming Dr. Jekyll, as I gazed into the bathroom mirror I could not help but utter aloud “'O God!' I screamed, and 'O God!' again and again; for there before my eyes--pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death--there stood John the Grumpster!”, not a pretty sight as my good lady Clare may well pay testament to.  You see this is what twelve hour night shifts do to me, taking such a heavy toll upon my usual placid and charming demeanor and turning me into this unrecognizable wraith from the pit of despair, whose every joint aches with discomfort and eons of graft, every muscle (yes I do have a couple left) feeling as if they’ve spent a lifetime on the rack of some hunchbacked torturer in the dankest of dungeons and my mind left a desert of happiness, devoid of good nature and full of rank and bitter thought. Even Willow was most hesitant in welcoming me as I dragged my weary frame into the kitchen, preferring to half heartedly wag her tail from under cover of the table. I managed to steal a glance from out of the kitchen window before my eyes were burned, Dracula like, from their sockets by the day’s light, enough of a look though to realise that the weather outside did not look to bad at all, well that’s as long as your resistance to a cool, drizzly, cast over, day was up to scratch which, in my debilitated condition most certainly was not the case for the Grumpster. My head swam with many dark and miserable thoughts, of work and of other personal things not to be mentioned here, filling it to the point of bursting and relieving themselves by turning into the groans and oaths uttering from my lips. Oh yes it was shaping up to be such a wonderful day for the Grumpster wasn’t it?

I turned around to find Willow unenthusiastically nudging her new collar, barely able to glance at me and just hoping that the Grumpster would flee this human form that was usually so loving towards her. “Well” thought the Grumpster, “a walk around the block will stop her pestering I suppose”. But then, perhaps pricked by conscious but probably not, the Grumpster thinks “a short walk around ‘the loop’ at Moel Famau would be better, no bleedin people to bump into and to have feign an unfelt pleasantness towards”.  So, decision made, the Grumpster dragged on jeans, steal toe capped ‘garage’ boots and a work’s jumper (not the best walking gear to say the least I fear) then, after roughly hauling the warthog into the back of the cruiser (no fun here then?), headed for the hills, still grumbling and not really focusing upon the road ahead. Isn’t it funny how, when your ‘Grumpster’ alter ego takes possession of your knackered mind when it is devoid of rational thought, you discover that every other road user is a complete imbecile who really does not deserve to be on the same piece of tarmac as yourself and perhaps should be made to retake their bloody driving test, twice! Now I’m not saying that I was offensive to other vehicle pilots but I do have a vague memory of a rather excessive use of the ol’ Anglo Saxon upon a couple of occasions , of course each occasion being totally justified… ahem… sort of.

So we final arrived at the lower car park at Moel Famau (really could not be bothered driving the extra ½ mile to the upper one) where we disembarked. Well ok, where I edged my way off the driver’s seat and painfully crept to the tailgate to release Willow from her confinement. Straight away I regretted not putting my usual walking gear on as the cold cut through my totally inadequate clothing the chill my poor bones to the very marrow, bugger. I also wished that I’d taken time to fuel up properly because a hastily eaten piece of cheese stolen from the fridge and a mug of tea (ok three mugs) does not really constitute to necessary requirements for a walk on the hills, bugger once more. With no sign of the cloud cover breaking I lurched, Ahab like, towards the first slope of the day. Ahab like? Well yes actually because my bleedin right leg had decided to stiffen up completely making me drag it along behind me like so much whale bone and that I’d also developed a squint that would not have looked out of place after a blistering day in the crow’s nest scanning some distant horizon searching for that slightly misunderstood white whale! Glancing at the heights before me my heart sank further into despair and the cold bit even deeper, thrice bugger it then. “From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee”, not really the best thoughts to be having at the start of the day but hey ho we cannot all be a ray of sunshine first thing in the morning can we now. As I trudged morosely up the trail I noticed that the sun was starting to clear the upper ridges of the mountains folds and that the early morning mist had started to weaken, Ah the cloud must be relenting a tad then. After about a mile or so I cleared the second ridge and realized how quiet the trail was, yes there was the dampening affect of the moisture laden air but the world just was still.

Hardly a breath of breeze was there to disturb the trees and if there were any birds around they were muted and without voice. I paused to take in the vista before me. a feeling of overwhelming ‘smallness’ came over me as I drank in the crisp air and just stood and drank in the peacefulness of it all. If there was a God, thought I, it’s times like this that you should thank him for, it just felt so…. So…. Oh bloody hell don’t expect anything deep from me but it just felt so perfect, just a perfect moment in time when I felt at peace, at one with everything, when absolutely nothing mattered at all, so right, so… oh hell fire you’re probably laughing your socks off now, oh John’s seen the light, oh John’s being profound, well I’m haven’t and I’m not! It’s just that I lack the words for how I felt in that briefest of moments other than it was just so bloody well perfect.

The sound of a dog barking in the distance broke the spell, whether a moment like that will ever occur for me again I could not answer, only to say that I hope that it does. We headed onwards, my pace increasing as the aches, pains and the Grumpster were left behind on that ridge. Sensing the change Willow became animated and full of energy; her running is now truly a sight to behold, and now she quarters the trials ahead her interest and inquisitiveness showing that she’s going to be soon catching prey without encouragement from yours truly. As we passed the five mile point and turned for home Willow showed a marked interests at a spot under a low bush, easing her out of the way there, before us was the remnants of a recent kill, a male Blackbird by the feathers. There was little else to show except that the feathers were closely grouped so I’m guessing they were plucked upon or close to the ground and not high above in the bush and that the quills had been pulled cleanly out and not gnawed off. With little else to go on I’m thinking that this was killing made by a bird of prey with the feathers being pulled out cleanly, and the only one that I’ve seen around here that may feed low down in the bush would be a Merlin although I couldn’t rule out a Sparrow hawk.

Leaving the feathers behind us we carried on, the sting of the rising  cool breeze making my extremities tingle but being offset by the patches of sun lighted trail that were becoming more common. And here and there the first flowers were appearing on the trial’s edges, an herb called Coltsfoot I believe, a warming and welcome sight indeed and a sign that spring was making herself known. I even came across what could well have been a residence of the ‘little folk’ as mentioned in my friends ‘Casey’s’ post the other day. Also to found was a large expanse of frog’s spawn in a different area than where I’d spotted mating frogs earlier in the week. Although after the last couple of night’s hard frosts I fear that they may have been laid too early, a walk later in the week will be required to check if this is so.

Like the wind......

A home for the wee folk?

We stumbled into the car park thoroughly spent and knackered, the last hard night shifts of the grind having taken their toll and Willow hadn’t stopped pacing all the way round, putting another squirrel up once more as we neared the car park. They’re soon not going to be fast enough to avoid her me thinks and then there may well be trouble ahead!

I sat back into the driver’s seat, letting myself recover for what would turn out to be a less fraught drive home. Totally knackered I took a moment to reflect and listen to Willow’s hard breathing coming from the back of the car. Yes all my worries, fears and misgivings were still there but they lacked the importance and affect upon my mood as they had early in the morning. There are things that we all let get us down and drive our lives to misery but at the end of the day when all is said and done they are not important to in the great scheme of things. After all I have love in my life, food on the table, friendship of the highest order (at home and now across the pond – you know who you are) and ale to be supped, and on this walk I had experienced perhaps for the very first time in my life and for the fleetest of moments, something that I can only describe as inner peace. It’s the only way that I can say how I felt and I hope that it won’t be the last time that it happens, it’s a feeling that totally overwhelmed me and it is something that I wish you could all share and experience. Funny that, from Grumpster to a man who found peace all because of taking a walk…..

For now take care, your friend,



Jacqueline Howett said...

Well that was quite a long hike. Thanks for the great out doors adventure. Your photos with the mist I loved.Good story telling.

Lisa said...

Mr. MurphyFish-
Simply amazing. DU acts the EXACT same way when he has not had enough sleep. The dogs don't cower but they certainly do when I turn into Mrs. Hyde after 3 hours slumber.
Walking is perfect for the soul. After all of my job crap happened, I've been going to the gym and running with at least one my brood everyday. I've been feeling better and more optimistic.
Beautiful post.


Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Woops.. that comment should have been from me... my computer is crack. Maybe I should take it for a walk.. :-)


Murphyfish said...

Hello Jacqueline,
Thank you for your kind words, off to check out your blog this very moment.

Little Miss HLYH,
Thank you me dear, so glad that you enjoyed my musings today - hope that the job hunting shows results soon me dear.

Regards to you both,

Murphyfish said...

Well being as it's got no legs HLYH you could call it Woodbine and take it for a drag...

Jennyta said...

I really enjoyed reading that post, John. Blood pressure has lowered significantly after listening to Keith doing battle with idiot car insurance people on the phone. :)

Terria Fleming said...

Great tale, and I can certainly relate to the grumpy feeling, though luckily not from working a night shify (horrors!).
There's really nothing better than a walk outside in nature for curing what ails you. As a child I used to literally run for hours, with brief stops along the way, on my fathers cattle ranch. I only remember feeling wonderful and never tired at all.

Shoreman said...

Wow, At the beginning I was almost afraid to comment, but since things got better, here I go. Congratulations on your 100th follower. A big milestone in blogdom. Your comment on the Wee Folk. My Great-Grandmother was from Antram County (Belfast) and she was a firm believer in the Little People. There are things out there that are beyond us.


Murphyfish said...

Hello Jennyta,
Ah insurance phone calls, a perfect way to stay healthy - not

Hi Terria,
It works for me (not the night shift, and this time just seemed really special.

Murphyfish said...

Hey Mark,
Bloody hell I hadn't even noticed the number of followers, must say that I'm truly humbled and shocked. as for things we don't understand, does make for an interesting life my friend.

Bob Mc said...

Very much the same way I feel when the dogs push their noses under the blankets and tell me it's time to get up. People who know me well usually won't even speak to me until after the first cup of coffee. Morning chores done, horse and chickens fed, the world looks brighter. I'm not a morning person!

John Gray said...

youre connection to the natural world makes me look like carrie out of SEX AND THE CITY
wonderfully written

Casey said...

Excellent telling, my friend! The same - feeling, for lack of a better word - captures me more and more these days as I'm out on the trail, but I just can't seem to express it rightly, properly, or whatever. (See?)

At least I have you. Even when you're a grump. Thank you for the read! And I'm looking forward to a Welsh Squirrel recipe...

Thanks for sharing the walk and thoughts. Take care -


Gorges Smythe said...

No drivel THERE my friend! I've felt that feeling many times in the past when I worked in the woods, but it's a rare day now when it comes to me. As for whether there's a God, He's only spoken directly to me on two occasions, not by some booming voice from the heavens, but by that "still, small voice" the Bible mentions. Listen hard enough and you'll hear Him.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Exercise helps your body release Serotonin. Serotonin is our body's own pain killer and it makes us feel good.
But does the body release the serotonin because of all the beauty you see and experience on the trail? Or...Does the body see and feel all the beauty, because of the effects of the serotonin release?
Either way, it is a peaceful easy feeling.

Murphyfish said...

It is a bugger isn’t it Bob, and here I am at 4.50 am checking my e-mails trying to delay that morning drive to the grind…

Well John lad you’ve one up on me there having never watched it, but I’m glad that you enjoyed my efforts.

Hey Casey,
A pleasure my friend, I just hope that she brings the squirrel/rabbit back once she catches up to one…

Mr. Smythe,
Mmmmm I can see that eventually I’m going to relent and that we’re going to have to start having a chat upon a subject that I’ve denied or not believed in (maybe the wrong choice of words – won’t be the first time), I’ll drop you a line sometime this week in-between the grind my good man.

Hi Karen,
I have heard of the effects of Serotonin in the past although never really paid much head to the science of the body. It’s a good question me dear, rather like the chicken or the egg, I guess the answer comes down to your own personal outlook of the world but your right which ever way it is it works for me.

Thank you all once more, until the next time take care,
Your friend,

bigcatdetective said...

Nice one,cracking read,that,s the most entertaining blog i,ve read in a while but i can,t put my finger on why for some reason perhaps it,s the emotions that it draws out like laughter,etc.....

Damn The Broccoli said...

Great post John, and possibly one of my favourite yet. Who'd have thought the old grump would have it in him?

You know Buddhism says that negative thoughts are constructions of our own mind, moments like yours highlight that thought! Keep your peaceful moment with you for those deep shifts at the grind and maybe it will go better.

Enough of the theology though, not really my style.

Keep them coming like this one and I'm sure the 200 mark won't be long!

Take care mate.

Bill said...

John that was a great read and a lot there I can relate to. Funny how some time spent in the outdoors can totally change your perspective in such a short time. Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

Oh John! It's amazing what lack of sleep does to a person and how nature rejuvenates the grumpiest of souls. (speaking from experience here, not calling you names, lol!)

I have to say that I've always loved your blog. The good, the bad, and the grumpy but this time you had me captivated the whole time (and in stitches over the whole "seeing the light" bit!). I love your musings and your pictures as well. Keep up the terrific work my friend as your writing just gets better and better!

(and congrats on your 100 followers as well!)

Murphyfish said...

Glad that you enjoyed it my good man, if all that a do in this world with this blog is raise a smile or two then it’s mission accomplished…

Eh up Damn,
Thank you very much my friend, high praise indeed. I’m slowly learning that there is certain … oooh …. correctness? to feeling right with the more simple things in life. I’ll do me best to ‘keep them coming’

Hey Bill,
With you on this, there more time that I’m getting ‘out there’ the more my perspective of my life is changing. Chuffed that you enjoyed the post my man.

Hello my little fun bundle Kari ;-)
Thank you so much for your praise, coming from one who’s blog is something that I aspire too is stunning. If I can have this effect every post on your good self then my work here is done….

To all and sundry,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the praise and kind words in the comments on this blog, perhaps I ought to quit whilst I’ve reached such heady heights?

After all wouldn’t like to ruin it with inane drivel now would I?

Only joking, drivel is my middle name, but it’s a thought I guess….

Till next time take care,

Nearly there Claire said...

Lovely...fresh air and just pooch for company, you can't beat it for clearing your head.
My boys would too stand and inspect those feathers, but tales of dragons eating it would be the result ;o) you boys are all the same really.
Can't wait for our next walk. x

Murphyfish said...

Could do with the head clearing today - curse that cider! Ah but Dragons are real me dear as the Irish will be finding out this weekend;o)
As soon as the Warthog is 'out of season' we'll be hitting the trails once more - see you there