“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”Lady Bird Johnson
A woman walks along a deserted beach in her sturdy Docs on a pet of an evening in March close to the Equinox. She is alone, there is no partner, no child by her side, not even a dog. She carries nothing, no book, no bag, no drink, just a shawl against the bracing wind. To her left are cliffs, to her right an expanse of ocean, beneath her is soft sand and above her a cloudless sky. She takes a path closer to the water than the rocky folded cliff, where the sand is less fluffy and where her foothold is better. She just walks, steady and aimlessly towards a nameless, distant horizon.
High on the headland lie the remains of an ancient fort named Dún Dónaill and beyond that a Martello Tower. History cries out to her; this was not always so deserted or peaceful nor the lapping waves of the Celtic Sea so still. This beach called Baginbun, is named after a pair of Norman warships called “La Bague” and “La Bonne”, the ring and the maiden respectively, that alighted here in 1170. The safety of eight hundred and fifty-two years stood between them and now, between her and Raymond le Gros and his militia, and the vile acts of Alice of Abervenny.
She hears the howls of despair from the slain carry on the wind, sees their blood splatters on the creamy sands of her feet. She has left her Coleen Campervan by a gatepost up on the road, and knows that she can retreat back there at will. Today the only threats are potential threats. The full moon peeps out her head to the East, soon the tides will ebb ever closer to the shore. Mawie knows to be careful, she must not get trapped between water and cliff, between the devil and the deep blue sea.
A woman alone makes these choices, gauges things, factors in all of the potential pitfalls. What happens if there is a rogue man intent on bad things? How will she cope when a churlish Collie loose from his bearings makes for her? What of a squally lightning storm, sudden, sodden and snarling? A woman intent on being alone pits herself against all of these things and takes her chances. Such women as her need to claim themselves. They need to escape to the wilds and gather themselves. Mawie above all else needs to be herself. These were the exercises that tested her mettle, honed her inner reserves, these were the ones that guided her back.
Last night had been cold, so cold she’d had to root out the artic tog sleeping bag and zip into it beneath the duvet. Wild camping on the southern shore isn’t for everyone and because she’d wanted to watch the moon rise, and had set her intentions on parchment to the moonlight, she’d decided to leave the front window uncovered. It was faced to the fence and there was a drop beyond that so she knew nobody could wander there.
The Equinox is a righting time, the world comes into balance. Nature sends equal day and equal night and this year a full moon too right on the eve of it. She needed it to right itself, so much of her life was way off kilter. She loved liminal places, the borders, and edges of things. The spaces between land and sea, sky and earth, day and night. It was in such places that she could look full square into things.
Hook Lighthouse, a refuge light to millennia of sailors twinkled benignly. Close by Loftus Hall looked desolate and bleak. Moonlight mirrored on a calm sea, and all is still. Beyond these shores wars rage and all of this observance is life’s metaphor. There is no reasoning it really. She thought of her former self. The woman who acted in righteous indignation, alive with gusto and zeal and conviction. The same woman who had circled Greenham Common and set up Women’s Shelters.
Where had that woman gone? Well, she looked right back at her in the mornings for sure and was it just that she looked into that mirror less? Had she become the evil stepmother or worse still Sleeping Beauty? “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” She was at once airy soaring sky and watery undercurrent sea.
And so, she walked some more, step by steady step, a stream trickled through the sands and blocked her path. She couldn’t go over it, she couldn’t go under it, she’d have to go through it. There was always and ever a conundrum. Her former self would be the other side of it, but her current self was inclined to stay with the stream, to walk along with it a while, following the path that it took from source to sea. It meandered in a gentle trickle, cutting into the soft sands, smoothing the bedrock beneath.
She stopped at a bend in the stream, and in the canopy of her shawl she faced the moon and called for peace in the East. She then turned to the shore and called to the South, and then West and to the sheer cliff face for peace in the North. Then she traced a circle around her in the sand and asked for peace in the entire world.
In her ritual she honoured them all, those who had fallen, those who chose for whatever reason to take up arms, those who chose peace and those who could not, and especially those whose fate it is to die in conflict, whatever the side. She knows we are all connected, by land, sea, and sky and by the web of humanity. All of her thoughts and deeds create a ripple beyond the circle in which she stands. She would stand for peace, act for peace, be a channel for peace, she’d find peace in her own heart, in her life and in her world. There was nothing more simple, nothing more powerful.
And so, she closed all of the quarters in reverse and turned back along the way that she came, leaving no trace…