But I found myself thinking of numb fingers and smoky peat smell and mud on my boots, and I wanted to tell you about it.
2013 stretches back for me as one long, big lesson of a year. It's been hard, and instead of feeling as though I learn each lesson and come out of the other side, I feel more like God's been dismantling my personality, hopes, dreams, disappointments and character bit by bit, and slowly sewing them back together. And I still feel pretty raw and incomplete.
That's ok. That's not what I'm going to talk about, but I needed to say it because otherwise the next bit won't make sense! I live in the middle of nowhere. A sleepy little town that's been waking up to modernity part by part, so that it's a jigsaw of cottages smothered in honeysuckle and small, intimate backroads, and imposing new buildings made by architects playing Picasso. Our 'town centre' is more of a 'town sprawl', and the fact we can now boast a Costa is more a point of shame than anything else.
Welcome to Verwood.
If you walk through the copse next to Morrisons (I call it Dog Crap Alley) and walk soft and slow towards the rec, then you'll find yourself meandering through beaten mud tracks and past scout huts - and then -
onto the heath, where the gorse is boasting bright yellow buds right now, in a sort of laughing defiance at Winter's daring. Do your worst, they seem to say, and I'll still be here being slightly and ridiculously premature, but I'll feel good about it.
And the smell of peat beneath your feet will hang heavy and smoky in the air, which nips at your fingers and your nose because you were stupid enough not to wear four pairs of gloves and you haven't yet invested in a balaclava. Silly you. The air is so cold it chases the warmth back into your lungs and freezes you from the inside, but it tastes so freaking delicious you end up not caring.
And you toil up the hill, up the rugged, weatherbeaten sides and onto the peak and you feel as though you're on top of the world - as though nothing and no one can bring you down. Trees stretch for miles. Roads look like faint, silvery streams in the distance and the sound of far away traffic could be the quiet growl of some animal.
Because, like, we're so in touch with nature out here.
But there's another, very hairy reminder wagging its tail right in front of you. The dog is sodden and muddy, and it takes one look at you before tossing an equally sodden stick at your feet, with a wide, hopeful grin. Its person doesn't seem to be anywhere near.
You pick the stick up. It's slimy, and you waste no time throwing the dog-made boomerang across the heather and watch the dog hare after it, pounce on it, and bring it back. It drops the stick at your feet, bouncing back on its paws with an oh please oh please and barking in shrill delight as you reluctantly pick up the stick again.
It's only after the tenth time you've thrown it that you realise it's not going to leave any time soon. And you're reluctant to carry on walking because you're worried you'll be charged with dog-napping, so you bend and throw and bend and throw until its person comes into view a few minutes later, and is a mess of I'm so sorry he got you - how long has he been bothering you? He never lets you stop once you've started as though I haven't figured it out by now but we laugh with something genuine and I wipe muddy dog-slobber hands on my jeans in a supremely hygienic gesture and we part ways.
And I walk soft and slow back down the hill and through the rec and through the town and through the copse as though I'm on a bear hunt, but all that I'm hunting is a steaming pot of tea and dry socks. And when we get home I retreat up to my loft-room, which is all sorts of cosy, and the best place for Thinking, and I think about the gorse-flowers and the dog that would have persevered forever.
And I think, that's not a bad way to be. Being fruitful when it's not the perfect environment and in fact seems to be the exact opposite of everything you need. Persevering with the freaking stick again and again and again because you refuse to lose joy and delight in the little things, even if making a Grand Stick Throwing Machine is beyond your abilities. (Like so -)
And then retreating, if you need it, for a little while, to dry socks and good tea and soul food and people, because although it's not the answer you may be looking for -
it just might be enough.
Much love and laughter for the New Year!