Walking Forwards & Backwards

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by Rosamund Cran

What does it mean to document a walk and what can arise from this process?

To make a record, to record, to remember, to hold onto the experience, to do something with the experience. In any way –   a map, a painting, a verse, some notes, some music, a list.

Does this make a stronger recall, memory of the walk?

Yes I think it does.  I can recall that rainy walk with quite a lot of details.  The details are the things I noticed or heard.  The things I noted down.  I think it took me into the experience more than if I had not written notes. Both at the time and afterwards. And it can bring back earlier memories, link with past experiences.  This can be helpful and pleasing but also disturbing.

What is it like to recall this new memory? 

There is a feeling of being pleased, yes.  I remember and almost smile, a kind of inside pleasure, a warm feeling of going through all the things I noticed.  The sheep standing and staring at me, as still as stone.  The apples in messy lines along the path.  The garage door fronted with wrought iron gates.  The cyclists walking by in neon yellow.  The red berries strung on barbed wire.  The rain dropping onto my hood.  Also, the connections to my earlier memory of rolling down Devil’s Dyke as a child and the bumping fear.  The whole memory both past and present, feels like something given to me, a present, a good present, something that is mine, that I made from that wet morning walk. The new memory and the old memory became a new part of me.  I made them be there.  By stopping and looking and seeing.  I became a see-er, a seer.

New memory/old memory

The memory of rolling down Devil’s Dyke and being unable to stop, being out of control, as a child of about 9 or 10 years old, was surprisingly clear and strong.  I remembered it in my body; I remembered my father, with whom I had a difficult relationship, sitting next to me when I had come to a stop, and being a comfort.  I decided to make a film based on this.

Accompanied by a friend I went to Alexandra Park in Hastings, where I live, with a piece of greengrocer’s fake grass.  After a warming cup of tea in the café we selected a slight slope and headed over to it.  I gave my phone to my friend and told her how I would like her to video me.  Wrapped in the grass I lay down and rolled myself down the slope.  I checked the footage, and we adjusted my starting position.  Again, I rolled down the slope.  And a third time.  I felt dizzy.  That seemed right enough.  But the feeling was strong and was not subsiding.  I felt sick too and hot.  In fact, I was rather distressed.  Was this the physical effect of rolling around on the grass at my great age?  Or was the bodily movement and the memory of the childhood upset bringing old feelings to the surface?   I went home feeling nauseous and lay on the bed for a good hour before the feelings subsided.  An interesting experience.  Body, memory, feelings, from different times – all mixed up.  All stirred by a walk in the rain.

See the film at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hAIwYpCthw

 

Devil’s Dyke Walk

Apples, felled by the wind, line the pavement.

Piles of silage sacks bulge.

A pair of wrought iron gates stand directly in front

of a garage with a pull-down door.

In neon yellow a cyclist

pushes up the lane,

while birds start their chat,

leaves sway on branches,

and the rain falls.

 

A thin branch lies prone on the grass,

blades bend and twist,

nettle tops shake,

and the rain continues.

 

I spy one small orange flower,

waiting, quiet in the rain.

 

Sheep turn slowly away

and lean on the concrete wall.

Stone still they stand,

as we stare at the berries

strung on stalks,

dripping from the barbed wire fence.

I read the sign: “Dead end path”.

Roz Cran

September 2017

Devil’s Dyke – Saddlescombe Farm

 

Over and over

Sick, I am rolling

over and over.

Dizzy I stop on

my front on the grass.

Hot I discard my

coat and my scarf.

Steady I wait for

the feelings to pass.

 

I stare at the turf,

petals of daisies,

trefoil and clover.

I finger the leaves,

and search for the luck

that I lost in his

garden, aged ten and

a half at the end

of a day.  I rolled

over again and

over and over

down Devil’s deep Dyke.

 Roz Cran 2017

www.rozcran.co.uk    rosamund.cran@network.rca.ac.uk.

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