There aren’t many annual dates that I mark other than birthdays and hypocritical religious events. There are even fewer that I get out of bed for while it’s still dark. It might not surprise you to learn that the so-called Black Friday is not one if them. I can’t think of a domestic event other than a supermarket car park on a Sunday afternoon that demonstrates the worst kind of human behaviour than Black Friday. Black Friday – another imported Americanism where the good people of the world put their differences aside to queue together all night only to beat the life out of each other to get a TV that is being sold for the same price as it was six months previously.
No, I’m talking about observing the equinoxes. We have four of them and they are a way of marking the seasons (actually we have two equinoxes and two solstices, in summer and winter). There are all sorts of ways you can mark the passing (or coming) of a season, but I usually prefer to get up as early as I can for the time of year and go somewhere to experience the sunrise. It’s a cliché but it would be great to go to Stonehenge though that is becoming more and more festival-like each year. I’m lucky enough to live near a hill dotted with iron age forts, Roman earthworks and significant standing stones so I kind of have my own local mecca for ancient man-made wonders.
In the past I have camped out on hills, ran 24-hour endurance races, and sat out and got drunk. All sorts really. I have even tried some Paganesque rituals and things that I have just made up because I fancy doing something that feels symbolic. It’s not always a case of doing something that will impress five Instagram followers, or just the experience of being among nature, I do actually appreciate the earth and what nature does for us and to us as well. Nature is very important to me and I want it to bloody well know that I’m grateful, so if walking about on a hillside at 5am barefoot with a teatowel over my head conveys that message, then so be it. I don’t believe in a God or deity of any sort but I do envy those that do in some respects because when they need something, they have someone to ask, something to say or somewhere to go. Nature isn’t like that really although it is most definitely omnipresent. I hope that by doing these things, nature – whatever or whoever it is, is paying attention.
This morning, I headed up there to usher in autumn. It was a tad misty but magical all the same. I had a flask of coffee while the rising sun did its work and then I set off for an 8 mile trail run. Nature was out in full swing and I saw two hares which pleased me no end. I originally mistook one for a small stray dog, it was so large on the path ahead of me. I did all this and managed to get home in time to start work. It’s my quarterly thing to do and I love it. It’s another simple yet affirming way of staying happy and positive doing what I enjoy the most.