Shouting from my shed

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sketch landscape

Sketch the View


My big ambition for the year is to have the smallest adventures of my life. Or, more precisely, to begin the year by deliberately going back to the very basics of spending time in the outdoors, reminding myself of so many things that I take for granted or do unconsciously through habit. Doing so, I hope, might help some new people take the first steps towards living more adventurously. So far this month I have had a cup of tea up a hill and climbed a tree. (Who says I am no longer a hard-core expedition man?! 😂)
Getting physical exercise and spending time immersed in nature is a crucial part of my life. I intrinsically understand this (and get cranky when I ignore it) so tend not to give it a lot of conscious thought. It just happens. So today I wanted to do something to help me notice. To pay attention to the process of making the effort to get out there.
I had a busy day, but set off half an hour earlier to squeeze in the chance to walk up through the woods to the top of small hill. It is interesting how time bends and flexes to permit these extra moments of noticing in such a way that come bedtime I still had ticked off everything I needed to do in the day — but with the bonus of spending a quarter of an hour sitting and noticing and sketching. The days are bigger and filled with more potential than we realise. (“’This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!’ thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her.” – CS Lewis)
We cannot cage the minute within its nets of gold. But we can at least try to notice it. I set a timer for 15 minutes and began to draw. I am hopeless at drawing, and so rarely do it, but I loved the way time disappeared as I poured myself into noticing the landscape, really paying attention, and trying to see what was actually out there rather than what I assumed was there.
I was so still that a chaffinch hopped right up to my shoe. I heard the loud, laughing call of a woodpecker and a buzzard’s mewl. The buzzard later glided across the view just before the timer sounded. I smiled, packed away my notebook, scampered back down the hill, and carried on with my day.
Building a small routine of making regular pockets of time for the outdoors — escaping out of real life into Alice’s wonderland — is no great burden. We can all manage it. (If you are protesting with, “I don’t have time!” then I politely suggest you in particular need to do it…) This is no great burden, no weighty commitment, no unrealistic new year’s resolution. We can all do it. But it does require actually doing, not just dreaming about.
A challenge: get outside today and do your own 15-minute sketch. Share it online with the #15minutesketch hashtag. Don’t be shy: you can’t be any worse than me!

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Shouting from my shed

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