It’s morning and I am up early for a journey across Dartmoor to Totnes, a forward thinking town in Devon in the south west of the UK. Totnes is called ‘Narnia’ by some, an indication of what kind of place it is.
It’s on the south side of the moor and I live on the north side. On the journey just before you head up onto the moor from where I am, is a place called Tavistock, an ancient Stannery town where mined tin from the moor was weighed out and sold in the middle ages, it used to have an Abbey and is the birthplace of Francis Drake. I want to stop because it has a pannier market with arts, crafts and antiques.
As I enter the market, the first thing I see is a huge owl, sat on the gloved hand of its handler. Big bright orange eyes and fair size – it’s a Bengal Eagle owl the handler tells me. I am spellbound, it’s not just its incredible beauty but its presence, an intense awareness – which feels total. I break away from its spell, feel a sorry for it not being free, chat a while to the handler then meander around the market and after a short time I leave and continue on my journey.
I head up onto the moor. The open expanse relaxes me on a deeper level and the tapestry of tawny colours remind me of the owl. I drive slowly, savouring it all.
Eventually, I come to the south side of the Moor and to a particular spot, which I can only say has come to represent my lost paradise – a ancient wooded valley with a stunning river flowing through the middle. I park up start to make my way down into the valley, get to the river, sit down and begin to tune into the magic.
After a couple of hours, having slowed right down and feeling completely invigorated, I climb back out of the valley. I decide to walk along the top on a route I don’t normally take. The views are amazing, and as with a lot of high panoramic views I begin to get a being a bird sort of feeling. An outcrop in the valley, known as Eagle Rock, falls into my vision and for the first time I really see why has that name – it has the distinct shape of a huge bird of prey perched on the tree canopy.
After a few moments of studying the rock, serendipitously, I look up and notice a buzzard gliding over the valley then remember the owl and its intensity of awareness. For a moment I feel it – I become that awareness, total connection to the whole valley, the wide open sky, yet with complete attention to every little detail below at the same time.
There is no thought, only complete immersive absorption with the environment.