Today has, apparently, been the hottest November day ever recorded. It was the sort of day I feel lucky to have been alive for; the autumn colours have been special this year and against today’s backdrop of blue sky they were quite stunning. I will remember glory moments of sun through the canopy of an ancient coppice wood and the found gold of beech leaves underfoot.
Usually when I pick Dylan up from his care home we come directly home or make our way to whatever activity we have planned. Today however (as I mentioned in yesterday’s post) I had arranged to make only a short visit to Dylan rather than having him for the entire weekend. This provided a great opportunity to explore the environs around Dylan’s care home, something I have been wanting to do for a while.
‘Home’ for me involves a sense of place; until Dylan and I had walked his new neighbourhood and learned the landscape, I knew it would not feel like a home. I’m pretty sure this is true for Dylan too; in fact I would say that Dylan’s sense of home is dependent on him pacing out territory and identifying physical boundaries (I have written about Dylan’s sensory engagement with landscape here and here).
On our walk today we were joined by my friend Caroline and her partner Mark. We have been out for walks together before, which Dylan enjoys. He likes to alternate between Mark and Caroline, linking arms and chatting with them in words he is confident enough to use. So when I told Dylan, when I picked him up today, that we were meeting Mark and Caroline, I wasn’t surprised to see his eyes light up. What did surprise me, however, was when he said ‘see you’ to Caroline (as in ‘nice to see you’) as we arrived at our meeting point. How wonderful! Not just spontaneous and appropriate language, but social too 🙂
The walk was lovely. We followed an old railroad for a while before plunging into a beech wood. Mark had an OS map but there were so many criss-cross paths we lost our track. Dylan had a pretty firm idea of which way he thought we should go, however, so we let him lead. After all, this is his patch now. I liked the idea that we were Dylan’s first guests as he guided us confidently through the yellow wood, back to the fork in the road we had started from.
Caroline has had walk-on parts in some of my posts before, as one of Dylan’s trustees for example, and the friend-witness in my grave-tidying story. She has recently started her own blog documenting her experience of supporting her 98 year old father into care; Caroline and I have found interesting parallels in elder care and care for the disabled, as well as some key differences. You can read Caroline’s blog here.