Bowl of Mice
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I come here sometimes when things get on top of me. My secret place.

I shift on my small tripod seat and look at the colours shifting over the embers on my fire as I listen to the hiss and crackle of the popping coals. I can watch fire for hours.
Its cold and slightly damp out this evening, but I don't wear anything much more than by brown bush jacket and a t shirt. The cold and the dark of the evening are both banished by the flickering light and the fierce heat coming from my carefully built fire.
I am at peace here, in this place. That doesn't happen often…

I have been fighting with many things in my life recently and I seem to be losing many of these fights to things I am unable to control.
The black dog has been hounding me more and more of late and I am wounded from his incessant attacks. I feel drained and the ability to heal myself has been steadily eroded by events.
It is said that most people can count true close friends on one hand.
I could cut off three of my fingers and not count my thumb, and I'd still have too many fingers.
I have learned a lot about people recently. Disingenuity hurts. Betrayal cuts deeply. Neither are traits that sit well with me so… well that's another finger freed up then…
I feel very lonely in my twilight world.

I got here sometime this afternoon. I spent about an hour clearing the ground in my little retreat in the woods, well out of sight of anyone like me who might be walking their dog in the middle of nowhere and then I spent the next hour or so digging my fire pit and gathering firewood.
Tinder made from the bark of honeysuckle branches and a fallen birch tree.
Small sticks to start the fire once the tinder is alight, medium sticks to build the fire and some larger logs cut with my folding hand saw from a fallen tree. I didn't bring any matches or a lighter with me, so I use the back of my hand made knife and a fire steel to light the tinder and once I have a decent little blaze going, I set up a pot stand made from a green branch and put some rice on in a small billy can I carry in my rucksack.

And now I sit here in the dusk alone with my thoughts.
Apart from the fire, there is no sound. Absolute silence apart from a very faint 'swsssssssssshhhhhhh' as the wind moved through the trees in a place far above me. No radio, no music, no tv. There is no phone signal here. There is no one else within about two miles of my current location. I am isolated. I am segregated. I am cut off. For a short while, I am removed from all the heavy burdens that I carry. This secret place, this retreat, is a place where the demons that stalk me cannot follow.

Technically I'm not supposed to be here but I guess its like that age old question 'Does a tree make a sound as it falls in the woods if no one is there to hear it?'. Am I really here if no one is here to witness it? I never leave any trace that I've been here.

There is a large cliff face about 20 metres from where I sit which is about 150 foot high, and the prevailing wind blows over the top of it, so even on a stormy windy day its perfectly tranquil here.
As I sit here in the dark, with my Billy can of rice simmering away, the smell of vegetable rice wafts over me but Im not really that hungry.

Actually the truth is Im not quite alone here. There is a hermit that lives here too. His camp is about a minutes' walk from where I sit. We acknowledged each other on my walk in and I've spoken to him and shared a beer with him here in the past, but he has his own troubles and is wrapped up in his own world and if we were to share a camp fire tonight, we would just burden each other further.

Solitude in this place of retreat is cathartic and the peace here allows us that solitude.

So here I am. At some point this evening I will pack up and clear up and go home leaving no trace I was here save for a small mound of earth where my firepit now crackles and I will go home to a lonely empty house that was once my castle. My home filled with so much joy that is now just a lace where I go to be downtrodden and have it constantly hammered home to me how much of a fool Ive been.

I know the black dog is stalking me in the dark so I will stay in the warm safe light of my fire for a while yet while I ponder what to do with my life. I am at a crossroads and every road away from this junction that is paved with unhappiness and more loneliness. I dont know which way to go and...

Ah... I come here to get away. But tonight I am pursued by my demons who will not let me go for even a few hours.
I throw my rice into the bushes. Some lucky animal will have a rice feast tonight. But I pour the remaining water into my steaming mug and sip the hot chocolate which burns my throat as I wallow in the dark.
I think about the betrayal around me. From people I would have trusted with my life. I wonder if a confrontation would be worth the additional fallout that would no doubt cascade into my life and increase the already heavy burdons I carry.
They are not aware of the things that I know. I will gain nothing from it I know that, yet still part of me wants to go down that road knowing further destruction and pain lays waiting. I decide that I will let those sleeping dogs lie for the time being. (Pun was not intended but is nevertheless worthy).

I amuse myself by trying to come up with as many alternate words as I can.
Deception, treachery, unfaithful dishonest, treason, duplicity, perfidy, falsness, trickery, disingenuous, liar...

Todays word is duplicity

The embers are starting to die. Its time for me to kill the fire and head for my home.

Today has not been a good day. Nor has this week, or this month or…

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