The Pieterpad and its varied paths

Below:  path surfaces from Gramsbergen to Hardenberg

These collages are from my most recent 4 day 50km walk between Gramsbergen and Hellendoorn via Hardenberg, Ommen and Lemele. Travel logs for those days are blog posts 10,11, 12, and 13. But while I was walking, I kept seeing how interesting all the different surfaces were that my feet (said feet make a few cameos in the photos) were continually making contact with. So they are just as important as other visual records of the trip.

Above, you can see that it was rainy, and that the walk was more on roads than through nature reserves and woods.

Below, Hardenberg to Ommen, Ommen to Lemele

And finally, the last leg, from Lemele to Hellendoorn.


#8Storing summer light

August walk collection and weaving

August walk collection and weaving

There are some moments when, even in the middle of living them, you are already missing them. During my last walk, at the height of a perfect summer I knew I was creating a memory. In his wonderful book, The Old Ways, Robet MacFarlane describes a similar moment on one of his walks:

…and the sun loosed its summer light, as it had done for uncountable years across the sea, the island and my body, a liquid so rich that I wanted to eat it, store it, make honey of it for when winter came.

Shortly after my last light-filled walk we had a few days of rain, the weather was still warm. And then it all changed. It felt like getting kicked out of paradise- the skies turned an ugly leaden grey, storms raged, and the temperature dropped. It has been like this for about 10 days now, and autumn feels awfully close. No eating dinners outside,the doors closed, the heat back on, the thin, light clothing suddenly feeling inadequate and out of place, and giving way slowly to fleece and wool.

I just haven’t had a chance to prepare myself to let go of this idyllic summer so rare in the northern areas where I’ve lived for the past 36 years (Northern Scotland and Holland).

Fed up with being cooped up in the house for yet another day, I took off this morning for a short local walk. It was just an hour’s loop, but it was blissful. Contrary to a few days ago when I went out despite an approaching storm and got properly soaked to the bone, the rain held off. The wind was refreshing. There was a strange moment, I saw 3 large buzzards cruising on thermals above a small forest. And I walked along the canal where swallows were swooping for insects, I was in their flight path, so they would whoosh close by. As a background to all the bird flights, there were fighter jets training above the clouds- once in awhile their black arrow shapes would break into view far above the birds-  and the noise was deafening.

Still that was part of this walk, the nature was beautiful, and I came home more able to accept the possible early change of seasons.

Pieterpad talisman

Pieterpad talisman

Pieterpad talisman

During my last walk I discovered that almost as much as walking, I enjoyed stopping. Sitting in the dry grass along the path, everything became still. I could focus on the micro world around me, on the insects going about their lives, and the plants close to the ground.

I remembered how when Rende and I used to camp in France, the first thing I would do at a campground was to make a miniature garden. Collecting shards of sandstone I’d construct mini walls, and a bottle top would become a pond. I’d lose myself for hours in these tiny worlds. I’ve been doing this all my life.

So intuitively on my walks I’ve begun to collect grasses, wool, herbs and feathers. Finding a place to sit comfortably, I started to weave the grasses into a bracelet sized ring.

beginning to weave the grass

beginning to weave the grass

I had brought  a few supplies- thread, scissors, needles, so could bind the grass as I twisted it. This is a basket making technique I learned from an artist friend- you twist the grasses in one direction- say,  away from you, and bind them by twisting the thread in the opposite direction toward you. That way they stay in place.

grass ring

I ended up with a small roundel of grace, I mean grass. Later, at home, I added the other materials I’d collected from that walk. The downy feathers give it something whimsical.

Making things like this is somehow essential to me- it leaves me feeling more whole and connected and on track.

I’ll keep the finished object for awhile, but most likely will gift it back to nature on the next section of path I walk.