Monday, 6 February 2006

ODM has left the building...

How to start…? How to start…? Okay, got it… first off introductions… Well, I am not Ditch Monkey — nor a tree — so what, you might ask, am I doing typing in his blog? More’s to the point what are you doing wasting time reading it when you checked in simply to be updated about Hugh’s year in the woods and the work of the Woodland Trust? Lemme see if I can explain…

True, I’m not Hugh — though since early November I have come to know him (top guy), and what’s more I know, more than most, what he is going through out there night after glacial night alone in the woods. How? Because I too am living alone in the woods — homeless and jobless and until now almost totally without connections or hope.

Obviously, I’m not proud of that, of loosing the reins of my life and being in this situation, but it’s frightening how easy it was to slide into it, and how seemingly impossible it is to get out. Homelessness becomes a Gordian knot (to run with the Classics theme of DM’s last entry;)), especially when you haven’t worked for a couple of years and so don’t have current job references (that’s the real prison). The road just comes to an end, in an abrupt cul-de-sac. And that’s where I’ve been for almost a year and a half now, sliding rapidly down the biggest snake you ever saw, and for the last six months of it finding myself right at the bottom, in Homelessness proper — with all my bridges burnt, and all my dreams up in smoke.

It’s the kind of thing, like most of life’s extremes, that you never think will ever happen to you, so you never give any thought to what you’d do if it did. But knowing how I was, I would have thought I was the kind of person who would bounce back from more or less anything. Pick myself up, dust myself off, and throw myself back into life, stronger and wiser and resolved never to let anything like that happen to me again. But the shock of something like this leaves you in a stupor that it is hard to rouse yourself out of; you do what animals do when winter arrives, you shut down. It’s a process, painful mostly, beginning with the kind of fear that gnaws away at your nerve endings and at times causes reality to flap away like a sheet in a high wind, your reason is eaten into and almost at the first hurdle your courage slinks away with its tail between its legs leaving you with a tremble inside that fills you with self hatred. Then comes the shock and horror, then a long almost catatonic-like coma of being in denial and an inert time of deep sadness and loneliness. Confusion and desperation follow. Then, if you’re lucky, the determination and fight to get out comes. I suppose I am one of the lucky ones, because that is where I am, determined now to get the hell out of this situation and back to the land of the living.

So, I started a blog…seems ridiculous now, homeless and jobless and without almost any resources to start a blog as the first step, but it is my way of reaching out I suppose, which is what I haven’t been able to do so far, and it’s easier to start that kind of thing from a distance. So I start with a blog. And hope people will read and maybe even respond and support me in it, and ridiculous as it might sound, just as importantly that it might give a structure to my day — cos there is nothing else I have to do, nothing else anyone relies on me for… and that, I have come to see more clearly during this time of disconnection, is a human need just as great as any of the others — life is symbiotic, I just never appreciated that so much before. I thought I was an island, the exception to the rule. Only I’m not… Which is why Ditch Monkey has given over this space to me today — so that you can read a different perspective on life lived outside in the woods, but also so that I can simply invite you over to my own blog, which I am just starting. I hope some of you trek on over once in a while and say hello.

So, here I am living in the woods — not the same woods as DM’s — mine are closer to London — and not under quite the same conditions: I am living at the edge of the woods, on a laneway through, and whatsmore I have a car. Which, in comparison, makes it seem not exactly a soft option, but not as bad as it could be either.

Though it’s not always easy to call that to mind. Not when you are sleeping across the front seats of a car loaded with all your worldly possessions, in a sleeping bag with your knees jammed in under the steering wheel and the handbrake digging into your stomach or spine night after night. A car in which the heater has never worked, and even if it did you couldn’t afford the petrol it takes to run the engine to use it. Nor the attention, in a quiet, dark laneway, a revving car with a lone woman sitting in it might draw. So there is nothing to do but sit wrapped in layers in the dark, and at times ice-cube cold, waiting for sleep to transport you into another morning and the prospect of a steaming hot drink to wrap frozen hands around and somewhere to shower, a warm place somewhere for your brain to defrost.

Some nights it’s easier than others to see that things could be worse. But nights when icy, relentless rain blows in through windows that do not close properly, or I am kept awake by the whole car shaking from side to side with sudden winds that threaten any moment to hurl boughs and branches in through the window screen; or when, every so often, the headlights of another car swing into my isolated laneway and wake me at night and I lay terrified, trying not to move a muscle, rigid, my mind caught between the flight or fight response as I cautiously raise my head and squint into the bright glare, praying furiously that whoever it is will leave without realizing I am there. But sure it’s the endgame, the windows clouded with tell-tale panicked breathing, my whole body like an ear as I wait, listening to an engine idling in the darkness somewhere nearby, sometimes voices, sometimes bursts of drum and bass from a rolled down window, the strike of a match followed by a quick rasping in-breath, hurried footsteps, the snap and rustle of undergrowth: lovers perhaps, off into the woods? Burglars stashing loot? Happy slappers? Until eventually car doors slamming again before whoever it is slowly reverses back out and my panting and the loud hammering of my heart against my ribcage dive out to fill the spaces in the empty laneway that their sounds had left.

Not easy at all to see that things could be worse then. Nor, when the cold that has found its way into my kidneys wakes me almost hourly and so, being a woman (did I mention that before?) I am forced out from under my, by then warm, layers into a brutally cold, pitch black night in order to go to the toilet.

Then — those times — having the ‘luxury’ of a car to sleep in doesn’t seem so much of a soft option at all; and even when I sometimes glance over my shoulder as I hurry back into the car and for a moment pause, distracted — once by a pair of foxes with ruby red eyes, slinking in behind the tall, charcoal-like trunks of the trees, or follow the sound trajectory of an owl-call billowing up into the frozen green-black air, and for a moment I pause, shivering, waiting for a response to call back from way across the woods and as I wait peer off through the tall trees and the various layers of darknesses deeper into the wood, and think of other homeless people sleeping rough outside on the streets, or of Ditch Monkey totally exposed out there somewhere in his own woods in Oxfordshire, without the relative protection of a car to hop back into, it does not always make my own situation seem less bleak, or at least not any more bearable. Probably because it is more often than not 3:00am by then, and loneliness lays in wait and intensifies into something overwhelmingly terrifying at 3:00am and the spirit is held trapped in an aspic of self-pity that it is almost impossible, before the first faint light of morning arrives, to think yourself out of.

But when I am back in the car, shivering my way back down into the sleeping bag and settling the other, thinner one, over me, I do sometimes think of Ditch Monkey again, and am grateful… Because Ditch Monkey does not only save trees he saves lives as well. Or rather he did mine — almost certainly.

Because a couple of months ago, when I read about him in an article in the Observer, I got in touch and he came to meet me. It was just about the time the weather was on the turn and the first of those first really cold nights arrived like school bullies out of nowhere. I was stunned by the cold and amazed when I read just then about Hugh and what he was doing. Stunned that someone so ‘safe’ and ‘sorted’ was choosing to live in similar circumstances to the ones I was desperate to get out of. I had been living a life of almost total isolation by then, jobless and homeless and through mostly pride and fear almost totally friendless I suppose, and had barely spoken to another human being at all in the longest time. So the prospect of meeting someone who could understand part of what I was going through — someone who was living a ‘normal’ ‘respectable’ life during the day (as, even though I wasn’t working, I was trying to do, or increasingly keen to be seen to be doing) was kind of thrilling. And my hunger for someone to share some of the experience with, just to share… share anything with, after so long being isolated, was almost as startling to me as reading the article about DM in the first place. I have been in, or close to, so many hairy situations in the last few months and gone through such an emotional journey that I am almost beyond fear at this stage, and so without too much thought or qualms I arranged to meet Ditch Monkey. I was about to tell the first person, a total stranger, about my circumstances and how I ended up living alone in my car in the woods and it wasn’t frightening at all, it was exciting in a way — in fact a complete relief to be telling anyone, after all this time, especially someone who I assumed wouldn’t judge or condemn.

Instead of going back to Oxfordshire he was meant to sleep in my woods, or close by, and go to work from there the next morning — it seemed right and safe — he is doing all this for charity I reasoned, not because he is mad or dangerous — and he works in Sotheby’s for God’s sake, I told myself — as if that was a badge of sanity or respectability;-) — he is hardly going to attack or murder me. It’s just a sleep-over, in the woods, nothing odd about that!

On the day though fears started to seep back in and my feet got colder and colder (metaphorically cold this time;-)) and I chickened out. (Now I know there wouldn’t have been any danger, but I didn’t know him then). We still met up though, at the arranged tube station, and he bought me a meal(and the kind of desert that sent us both into profound silence) and treated me for the first time in a long time like a human being, leaving me with some hope…but just, or even more, importantly at the time a sleeping bag — which is the way he may have saved my life…

He brought along one of his own ones for me, a purple, dreamily thick, feathery bag that I swear a few nights later, when the first of the cold nights finally arrived and my blood felt like it had slithers of ice floating around in it — and ever since — has kept me from hyperthermia, and probably alive. I really am not exaggerating. Until then I hadn’t realised how cold cold could get. Winter/Schminter, I can out-survive a British winter I thought. But until you are laying out in it at night you never really get acquainted with its ferocity. Winter isn’t really winter until you are sleeping out in it at 2:am in a dark, damp wood. Then it is a different beast altogether.

For a sleeping bag, I had been using one of the cheapo green and blue jobs from Argos until then — which I went without a few meals to get in the first place. But by the time I first heard about Ditch Monkey it had already become very flimsy and I found myself having to wear more and more layers inside it to get warm, and then to sweat profusely during the night as the temperature in the loaded-up car rose. But I was just about managing to feed myself, I couldn’t afford another bag, so my meeting with Ditch Monkey was very timely.

In fact, it was very timely indeed. And it still seems strange to me, that I, a homeless person living totally alone in my car in the woods (okay not deep in them exactly, at the edge of…) should end up reading a blog about someone else doing precisely that. Because I don’t read blogs. I’ve never read one. Haven’t kept up with technology this past year, and barely knew what one was until I read about DM’s in a newspaper which I found, and googled it. It turned out that DM was about the same age as me as well. There are two more coincidences that surprised me: one, DM started his ‘year’ just about the time I leaned over in my car from sheer exhaustion one night at the start of last summer, lay across my front seats and slept out for the very first time at the seafront in Brighton. I’ve slept every night, bar one, in my car since. And, coincidence number two: Ditch Monkey has a law degree. So do I.

Sometimes, during my time of homelessness, there have been moments of real clarity. Moments when you can scan back over your life and see patterns, loci, where only seemingly random events were before. Similar to staring up at a star-filled sky night after night, until eventually some of those bright specks jump out at you and your mind joins the dots and you suddenly see constellations shaping themselves among the seemingly random points of light. Certain events and people in my life seem like that, and occasionally there are moments when I feel like I have glimpses of them being similarly linked, of some reality behind the reality, some pattern to my life I am not usually aware of, of those people and experiences linked and forming something greater than themselves.

Reading that article about Ditch Monkey felt a bit like that, at the time. Seems almost ridiculous to even think of providence these days, but yes, felt a bit like that, and the article about him sleeping out in the woods, at a time when I was close to despair and finding it more and more difficult to see that I could ever find my way back from where I was — that I was kidding myself, that there was no way that I could work while I was still living in my car — so that I could save for the first month’s rent — that nobody who lives in the woods can survive and go on to live a ‘respectable’ life. But he was doing exactly that, living in the woods (without even a car to keep his belongings in) and managing to work at Sotheby’s at the same time. The article telling all that seemed so relevant at that moment in my life that it seemed like it was something I was meant to read, at that particular time. Maybe I should blame Hollywood — or the length of time I had been homeless and isolated — but on that particular morning it almost seemed like it was an article which had been left out for me to read.

Because I found the article in a newspaper which had been left in a hospital canteen, one morning when I went in to have breakfast. (I quite early discovered that in a nearby hospital, whose free car park I often use during the day, there are showers in two of their public toilets, so I can at least shower and wash my hair and keep reasonably respectable looking – which has its downside too, because it may be that pretense at respectability which is keeping me in this situation longer than I should be. Respectability, or ‘fitting in’ has never been a particular aim of mine, but now that I am homeless, and so far down there doesn’t seem any further to go, I am suddenly very anxious to blend in, and so ‘fitting in’ and going to extraordinary lengths not to have anyone guess that I am homeless have perversely become almost my raison d’etre. Whereas, I have been through so many changes during this ‘journey’ that internally nothing could be further from the truth, or in a way more repugnant to me, than pretense, and falseness.

Anyway, back to meeting Ditch Monkey…It was a Monday morning when I found the newspaper in the hospital canteen — it had been left behind by someone, was half-wedged behind the water font on the wall beside the table where I sat against a radiator to defrost, sipping tea with my usual breakfast of an orange and a mashed banana roll. It must have just fallen behind the day before when someone bent to drink water, and been overlooked by the cleaners. Because it shouldn’t have been there on a Monday morning — it was the Observer, from Sunday, the day before. Obviously I can’t afford newspapers, especially the Sunday ones and hadn’t read one in the longest time, so I pulled it out and read it greedily from cover to cover as my fingers and toes tingled back into life.

It wasn’t the whole paper, just the one section, but it was the section with the article about Hugh living in the woods in it, and of course I was fascinated. It gave me hope that I could come out of this — that other people had lived in similar circumstances for all sorts of reasons. And here was a respectable one. And whatsmore he was working at the same time. Although, when the writer hinted at a book and the film possibly following, I must admit my fascination threatened to congeal into an ugly jealous anger. Not that I wanted that publicity and outcome for myself — well I didn’t expect it, not in reality (though I have always been a scribbler and found writing the easiest way to express myself, always have — even at times of despair in the woods these past months (especially those times, perhaps…) I have found myself scribbling out a poem or diary or scenes or notes for a story, to keep myself occupied, and maybe sane too, and doing it — scribbling away at poetry, or in a journal or the unfinished novel I have in a box in the boot — is when I feel happiest, when I feel most alive and most myself. So of course I had dreamt in the past of getting a book published — maybe one day. And after those first balmy August nights of homelessness in Brighton (which had seemed almost like an adventure once I knew I could survive it) had worn off, and I began dreading the approach of night — yet another night when I could no longer delay the time when I had to lay my, by then quite painful, body across those cramped seats yet again — then yes, sometimes I quite willingly left reality behind completely and dreamed of maybe writing my way out of a situation that there seemed by then no other way out of. It wasn’t realistic (but then dreams tend not to be;-)) and I wasn’t thinking of writing my own story, about my own period of homelessness and life in the woods, or how it came about. At those times, when I fled reality with a sheaf of paper and pen and dreamt of one day writing a book, I thought more of finishing a novel and having that published (a fab novel by the way — literary fiction, beautifully written and constructed ·though not quite finished) a kind of supernatural love story set on a Scottish island — incase any blog-trawling literary agents just happen to be reading this;-) Writing was just a dream, something to dive into when reality became a little too brutal. One of the many, and necessary, distractions of homelessness (show me a homeless person who isn’t a dreamer — if it isn’t that which gets them there in the first place — and it often is — it is the thing which makes it more bearable once they are there.) So yes I continued scribbling and, when life got a little too draughty, continued dreaming…

But that was fiction, I wasn’t going to write about my own story. I was homeless, living in the woods, it was hardly a riveting story. But once I was back out in the cold, in the car preparing to settle down for the night, I thought about the Observer article I had read about Ditch Monkey, and his being a poster boy for some kind of media-created movement. And the more I thought, the more it seemed likely that this person, whose number one dream in life had probably not always been to be a writer, and who was also not technically homeless as such, might actually be getting a book deal out of this, and the more angry I became. Wrongly! But I thought then that he was pulling a stunt and playing along with the non-materialistic image that the article was portraying of him — when all the time he worked at Sotheby’s. I was wrong, there was no book or film deal and he quickly and publicly rejected the image they were trying to foist onto him, and he also wasn’t claiming to be homeless and not, as I at first thought, implicitly laughing in the face of the very real and often inescapable hardship that homeless people have to endure, by making it look so easy.

As I said, that was my first reaction (and it has clearly changed since). All I could focus on was the impossibility, with no money for the standard deposit and months rent in advance, of me ever getting out of the situation I was in. And the despair I frequently came close to over it all. And here was someone living rough by choice. I couldn’t get my head around it. I thought it was wrong that he was getting publicity for that, when others who were unintentionally, or at least in many cases inescapably, homeless, even in the run up to Christmas as it soon would have been, weren’t even mentioned. I was wrong in that. We are all adults, all responsible for our own lives, and we all make choices about the issues we want to support too. Hugh chose to put his energy into the work of the woodland Trust and to actively support that and simpler, more environmentally friendly lifestyles, not homelessness issues. Which is much more than most people do. So my initial outburst of anger at him was wrong. I too have always loved trees, and living here at the woods among them since October my kinship with them has grown considerably, and I am now totally in love with them. So I completely take my hat off to Hugh (and no I am not asking you to pass it around;-))

But at least back then, before I knew him and before I thought through what he was doing, I was actually stirred into emotion. Because I had numbed myself off almost completely by then. I had been living in my car for most of the summer by the time I got in touch with Ditch Monkey, through this blog, and later met him. I was parked up in Brighton at first, my money had run out and things I had been relying on fell through one by one, quickly, like dominoes: accommodation which I thought I had secured; a job interview I was sure I had got; and mostly a very large sum of money that someone owed me and that I had gone into quite serious debt waiting for. The latter was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Calls from the bank started coming in about letters they had sent me, which were unanswered (because I was already homeless by then and so not there to get post, or anywhere to have it forwarded on.) Court proceedings on a debt were threatened and because I didn’t respond and had no address to give them, details were sent to a solicitor to start proceedings, and I was as frightened and angry and near to despair as I have ever been.

I calculated I had enough money left for almost a week in a B&B, but after that nothing. I was sitting in the car at the time, staring out at a pink and grey sea, tears pouring down as I watched a blurred red sun slip down behind the horizon, wondering what I could do, who I could call. After a disastrous relationship with someone who turned out to be quite ill, things had been falling apart at the seams for ages, and I had been pulling myself away from people one by one. I felt betrayed by so many people and too proud to phone anyone else who might be left, frightened of their reaction I suppose, maybe even frightened that they might turn out to be fair weather friends. Some things you don’t want to know. Illusions have a purpose sometimes and I needed to hang on to mine for a bit longer. I was feeling too fragile to put things and people to the test. I’d get in touch later…when it was all over…and I was back on my feet again… (When I had some money and could afford to be friends with them again!) No one need ever know for now. Not what friendship is, I know, but…

So rather than get in touch with anyone and ask for help I just sat and sat until finally the last of the light faded and most of the surrounding cars must have pulled away without my noticing, because when I looked up the sea was black and silver and the sky was a midnight-blue and looked like glitter from a tube had been shaken across it. I just sat and sat staring up at the stars totally despondent, not knowing what I was going to do, until all thoughts stopped and I just sat. Before I knew it was past midnight. It wasn’t cold – at least not the kind of cold I have come to know since — but the temperature had dropped so I pulled a fleece across my shoulders, and exhausted, just bundled another one up as a pillow and tipped over, laying my head on the front seat to rest. I hadn’t planned it – I hadn’t planned anything, which was the trouble — isn’t that how most slippery slopes are slid down? My head and eyelids were pounding but there was no fear, because I had intended, if anything, simply to close my eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths before I went to find a hotel further along the seafront that I could check in late to.

I closed my eyes and next thing I knew I was waking up to bright sunshine, clear blue sky, and the cacophony of huge screeching seagulls wheeling and swooping overhead. I ached like mad. But I hadn’t died or been mugged, and just as importantly I hadn’t spent a penny of the little money I had left. And it was easy, not sleeping in a bed. Easier than I could ever have imagined. Until then, I had never even been camping in my life, and never could have imagined myself ending up sleeping in a car, but I was almost proud of myself that first morning. It was my first night of homelessness proper (I had been traveling around the country with my possessions packed into the back of my car for almost a year by then, waiting for the money that was owed to me to come through, living from week to week, riding out all the delays and the excuses I was being given about when the money would come. I ran across to the Brighton Hotel on the corner with my wash bag to wash and brush my teeth in their toilets, and then treated myself to a bacon sandwich with my cup of tea, which I ate at a picnic table on the sand looking out at a sparkling blue sea. Nobody would have guessed that I was homeless and that alone made me smile, I was almost proud of myself and could hardly wait for night to fall so that I could do it all again. That was back at the beginning of August, and though the initial adventure wore off after a few nights and a few hairy situations, I have been sleeping in my car ever since. Feeling at this stage totally trapped.

I have always been very self-sufficient, like my own company, had pretensions of wanting to be a writer anyway when I was younger so to begin with homelessness and wandering was hardly a hardship at all. It was summer, I was by the sea: warm nights, chip-suppers up on the seawall, magnificent sunsets, long cliff top walks, clear, star-filled skies, and sublime moments like waking in the middle of the night in the silence of Palmiera Square once (I’ve lived at all the best addresses don’t you know! Or rather parked outside them!) And looking up through the window screen at the still deep-blue sky at almost 2:00 am; a high blue star-studded dome — a very distinct dome, just exactly like the cupola of a church — and across it, and at that hour, a handful of seagulls gliding silently and languorously back and forth, way way high up through it, pure white and silent, their slow flight almost a roll across the parabola and looking almost choreographed — like doves, sent out on some secret heavenly mission. Divine. The silence of that moment was amazing, even the sea seemed quietened, and it remains a sight whose beauty still haunts me at nights. So when people wonder, as they might, at my bravery out in the woods on my own at nights it is memories of that and other nights and sights like it (waking once at the edge of the woods and looking through the mist-hung trees through the treacly first light of dawn, the edge of the wood singed with golden light and some way into it, at one particular spot, the last of the moonlight still falling down through tangled branches and illuminating one small area of ground. A bright, white funnel of light among the darkness of the rest of the woods, and the air of mystery and the supernatural that the light gave to the rest of the still dark wood, the intimations of other realities, of worlds beyond; my wood (as I had come to think of it as) transformed by that one narrow wash of light, into something mysterious and spiritual, like waking up into a Rembrandt painting. The kind of beauty that despite circumstances is internalized and restores the spirit. It is experiences like that, and the bright silent seagulls like doves flying high up in the cupola of that star-splattered sky that I most often associate with the coming of the night. And why I no longer fear it.

That was last summer, and I haven’t slept in a bed since. But summer soon ended, and with it the last of my money. I stayed in a convent for a few nights after that, was even open to the possibility that poverty and despair may have given me a vocation. But long as I sat in the little pine wood-clad chapel, staring into the huge painted crucifix over the altar, and hard as I prayed, God never spoke to me, and I was never saved by a vocation. Instead, a very serene and petite French nun on vacation gave me twenty pounds to help me on my way; and with that and the last of the petrol I drove to London.

I planned to choose a safe place to park, carry on sleeping in the car for the time being, but get any job I could until I’d saved enough for a month’s deposit and a month’s rent in advance to get out of this situation. After nights of sleeping in various different streets and dodging traffic wardens during the day, I found the place to park here in the woods, near where I used to live, so an area I knew. But the job never happened. Though I am still trying. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong — I’m doing something wrong definitely, my background is almost an obstacle now, having a law degree almost a handicap, at least for the kind of jobs you can get without references and while living in a car. I feel able to do much more than that, to do anything right now, in fact I feel stronger now than I ever have, but it’s not easy.

Not easy to be alone and homeless without a job or a purpose. Not easy at all to be all those things and a woman. But I am, and at this stage I have no one to turn to for help, and no way out of this.
I'm in a corner. I know its my fault: I won't go to a hostel, and there is no way I can get the money together for a deposit and the month in advance I need to rent somewhere privately. Every day, from getting up in the cold and damp to going to sleep in the same, is almost totally taken up with trying to keep up standards, trying to make myself look
respectable: finding somewhere to dress and wash in
some privacy, keeping the car neat and tidy, everything easily accessible, and separated in bags — food in glove department, washbag and library books under driver’s seat, butter milk and cutlery in car door, dirty laundry squeezed into boot — waiting for money for the launderette so I can wash my bag of clothes every fortnight, and then
numbing myself off enough to get on with the business of sorting out enough food for the day and where to eat it. And to not alerting anyone to my situation — particularly other street people — because of the danger I perceive that
would put me in as a woman. And just trying to keep
myself balanced. That is it. That is what life reduces itself to, what survival is…
The only solution seems to be to go to the authorities and go to a hostel and live there until I come up on the list for a council property. I don't trust myself to survive all that. So I am stuck where
I am - in the woods on my own not knowing how to stop.

In amongst all the hardship there are moments of
sublime beauty too. Never a day without it really -
which is what makes it bearable. All the small miracles that are easily overlooked. And the paradox that sometimes when you
have literally nothing it feels like you have almost
everything - there is the seduction of that kind of
thinking anyway, the tug of madness perhaps - that you are close to the source. That
finally seeing all that beauty every day, absorbing it, is opening you up to
love, and that love is turning everything into itself.
Usually you think like that towards the end of the
second week when food money has run our completely and
it is the second day of hunger and you are demented by the smells of food everywhere, and
nothing eases the clutching pains in your stomach and the sky is the colour of mushroom soup, and even the leaves look edible by then.

Anyway, enough… now I realize that I am just waffling, taking up too much of your time and of DM’s blog space. So I’ll stop. But maybe some of you will come over and read my own blog some time, where I can wander freely. And maybe your interest will be the
chink of light I need to get me doing something regularly as a step out of this situation. I hope so.

But finally, since I am being Ditch Monkey for the day, I feel I should add a recipe to his Hunter’s and Gatherer’s Guide to Haute Cuisine. Haven’t cooked in a while, only foodstuff around here are a few withered but tenacious brown leaves still spinning at the ends of a few branches. No good leaf recipes come to mind, only thing I can think of is vinaigrette…

So, here is recipe for a lovely, tangy vinaigrette. If you like dark, use balsamic vinegar, if you prefer light use wine vinegar.
Pour the dressing into a jar with a screw cap and store it in a cool dark place — a hole in the ground, buried under mounds of wet leaves, or at the bottom of a rucksack will do nicely. Alternatively, you can use a fridge or larder, where it will keep for weeks. Leave about a third of the bottle empty so that there is space for it to be shaken thoroughly before use.
Mix 2 tblsp of Dijon mustard with 4 tables of water and 4 fl oz of the vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and whisk in 13 fl oz/325 ml of extra virgin olive oil.
This is an all-purpose salad dressing that will perk up mixed salad leaves (though I wouldn’t recommend sycamore or turkey oak this time of year!) Enjoy!

Inviting you over to my blog which is…


Penny Munn said...

Hi wanderingscribe.
Your blog made me realise that home is very much in the head rather than in any objective reality.

Robin said...

Because of what I've read here today, I will be hugging my family a little tighter and taking a moment to be thankful each time I turn my key in the door.

Your strength is inspirational. I don't know how much this will mean to you, but you will be in my thoughts daily.

I hope you find a way out of things really soon, and I'll be following your blog eagerly.

I'll be trying that vinaigrette soon, too!

Herself said...

I hope you get that book deal, because boy can you write...

SameOld said...

Best wishes to you Wanderscribe on your path. I will read you blog with interest...

WanderingScribe said...

Thanks everyone. It was so good to see your comments I can't tell you. I thought my post on ODM's blog was way too long and that no one would bother to read it all. But seems I was wrong. Went to check my emails today and there was one from ODM saying that there were some comments under my entry on his blog, to go look. So I did, and it really lifted my spirits to know that there were others there and taking an interest. Makes a whole lot of difference...maybe writing in blog regularly and knowing that others might be reading it will be enough to get me back into some routine.

Bin said...

I am working from home today and had lots of thinks planned to do this morning but I was so completely glued to your blog. It was a very moving read. Thank-you.
I wish you all the best I will defiantly be saving it in my favourites.