I walk every day with my Irish Terrier Fred. These are not done in the manner generally associated. A 20 minute round the block, down to the co-op for milk or along the coastal path with visitors on a windy Sunday. Those rarely occur, if ever.
Our dog walks are proper dog walks. They are as important to me as they are to Fred. We leave every morning between 7.30 and 8.00am, rain or shine and are always gone for well over an hour. I am pretty committed to 2-3 projects and generally have a workshop to run or a meeting of some kind which I regard as cutting these walks short.
They are no longer just dog walks. I need the space mentally. Quite an abstract statement! What does it mean?
Well: Some level of planning goes into each one. I rotate the areas we walk to encounter a range of environments. Largely my local woodlands, and there again I rotate which woodland and which area of the woodland visited. Sometimes I introduce a new area to walk, though I do need to travel some distance to find new walks and I don’t have spare time to travel far at the moment. Neither do I have time to reflect much on these walks or make art about them. This is temporary and as things settle down in a month or so I am sure I will have more time to work with the experiences.
At the moment I use them to either mentally plan things in my mind, have ideas about projects, imaginary conversations or dialogues that seem important and relevant to current concerns or topics. Other times I am very mentally inactive. Just letting the frost, mud or the trees just affect me without any control from me, just immersion in the landscape. I fine with that, no outputs of any kind just in the landscape! Sometimes I watch Fred, observe his behaviours and look at what he is doing. These walks are filters or part of a process often unconscious.
Then suddenly I need to manage a ‘Fred situation’ this might be an encounter with an aggressive dog, or a dog owner who wants to engage. A hang-glider following us along the cliff top or a wild animal. Today it was a swamp. Fred on one side me on the other and neither of us prepared get too wet. It took some while to find a route through without sinking.
There is always some kind of drama.