For years, Christmas brought stress. What to buy, who to buy for, how much to spend, how to afford any of it. What to do on the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations. A few years ago, we decided to step aside from all of those expectations and have the Christmas that we really wanted: quiet, just the four of us, without the pressure of cards or gifts (we donate to animal rescue charities instead), and with a walk as the focus on our day. And for the last few years, that walk has been here, at John Muir Country Park. This has become our tradition.
During the locked down weeks and months of 2020, I walked to this harbour often. And whenever I was here, there were always other people doing the same: standing at the sea wall, gazing out to sea, or sitting on a bench, quietly absorbing the view across the harbour.
In my previous post, I mentioned how we’d spent November misjudging how quickly it was going to get dark on our weekend walks, but looking back through photos, I realise we were doing the same in October. As on this walk at Yellowcraig when the clouds were gathering around us, hanging heavy over the Forth with the promise of rain.
I’ve got into the habit of taking more videos than photos now on these coastal walks – not consciously, but then I come to edit the photos and realise I don’t have as many as I would have had months ago. I’m crediting Instagram reels for this shift. Having been monumentally slow to embrace reels, I’m now veering towards them more and more on the lads’ account, albeit less so on my own. Often that 60 to 90 seconds of video feels far more descriptive of what our walks together feel like, with the lads running ahead of me along a beach or winding along the dunes paths. A still photo can feel like a great view, whereas a reel can feel like an adventure. And sometimes that means we’ll come home and I might only have a handful of photos, as here, after this frozen November walk at Yellowcraig.
It’s a frozen weekend here, and a strange one as I’m home alone with the lads (of course, when I’m with the lads, I’m never alone) and we won’t be able to go out anywhere. And our weekends usually revolve around walks. Regardless of the weather (more or less – we avoid wild, driving rain but that’s about it) we’ll usually be on a coastal walk somewhere.
For all the photos I share from this walk in beautiful light – this post from the start of this year springs to mind – there are also plenty of walks that look like this: grey, sullen, damp, dreich. And it’s easy to look at photos like these and feel that this place is a bit depressing. The fallen woodland of John Muir Country Park looks heavy in this light, in this weather. It feels heavy. And perhaps it begs the question, why share these images?