Hello fellow bloggy folk!
I've been a bad toad and not posted for ages, I know. There's been so many lovely things going on that I've been busy experiencing them all 'in the present'. I've often felt in the past that taking beautiful pictures is all well and good, but sometimes you can feel on the periphery of an event rather than part of it. I found that I was almost planning how a post would look while taking photos and analysing the moment ready for writing. So I ditched the camera and the keyboard for a while and just lived it. And it's done me good, for a while....
However, I have missed my blog, and I'm dying to catch up with it and all of you with what you've been up to.
Today has been an excellent day. We took up archery a couple of months back which I've been dying to try. It was a little daunting, as shoulder surgery left me rather weak on the left side, and the fibro sometimes has a mind of it's own.
But I decided to give it a go and we went to be measured up for a bow each and treated ourselves for Yule. It's been one of the best things I've ever done. Bob and I are lucky, we love doing things together, and make a good partnership. But the best thing is that the difference between us in the way of strength, height, etc,. doesn't matter. Because the bow is tailored to the archer, it means men compete against women, adult against child, on a totally level playing field.
I've learned that I'm not that good practising with targets on the butts, but out in the woods I surprised myself. The winding paths take you past all manner of rubber animal targets, each at varying distances, and with a coloured level to use depending on skill and experience. I favour the woodland targets, it's so peaceful there and you can zone your focus in much more easily. I love closing off and just feeling the wind through the trees and hearing the birdsong. Even in barren winter it's got a charm that seems to make me feel warm. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to shoot at animal shaped targets. Although lifelike, they are exactly just that - inanimate targets, even this wonderful raven. There were a few eyebrows raised in my direction when we rounded the corner and realised the next shot was at a corvid. I think he forgave me.
One of the best things is being able to spend the whole day doing something I love, outdoors, with my nearest and dearest, which includes husband, good friends, and now my brother who we've just had a wonderful day with. And of course, the dog. Poppy is fascinated with the targets, and on her first visit barked at all the targets and tried to provoke a fight with all of them, especially the turkey and the smaller bear. She is my little hunting hound for the day, sniffing everything, racing around the main field with anyone who will chase her, then sleeping like a log all evening when we're home.
There's an interesting thing here, though. Archery is a sport. Or is it? Personally, I think not. People have turned it into one, but I favour the spiritual approach of using it as a discipline and a way of life. Especially after a friend of mine gave me a book on Zen in the Art of Archery. It's fascinating. I don't feel it's about scorecards or where the holes in paper targets fall. It's more about how you conduct one of the 75 movements it takes to prepare and loose an arrow. You know in your solar plexus if it's gone well, you just feel it. The paper targets are almost irrelevant. My favourite shots are when I don't know if I've loosed the arrow or it's loosed me. I can't tell if the animal is the target or I am. I just know that my breathing is right at the moment of release and I haven't muddled things by thinking.
As you can see, I've decorated my bow with the trusty symbol of the crow. I've also added other woodland animal silhouettes to the other side which I'll post soon. It's definitely a magic bow - it's got a personality of it's own. Accompanied with the book, and the constant advice from the folks at the Archery centre, I'm getting a better understanding each time. The moment when you loose an arrow can be tricky, and everyone knows when you've thought about it because it doesn't work. There's an art to letting go, and the passage in the book sums it up brilliantly. The Zen Master says (roughly paraphrased) 'think about the tiny baby, who amazes you by gripping your finger with such force. He then lets go as though his hand were never there, and he lets go without effort. He releases your finger in order to pick up something else, so at that moment is only focused on the other thing, not letting go.' That's how you have to release the bow string.
So farewell from the Wild Wood, from the woman with twigs in her hair, and leave you with this advice - mainly for people doing archery with fellow Monty Python fans...... 'Don't laugh when loosing an arrow. You don't find the arrow, and get twigs in your hair looking for it without success.'