I may be turning feral. I have short nails from gardening and have worn my hair in plaits for weeks. The white strands are taking over and I can’t see without my glasses, but I’m guessing my eyebrows need plucking. I eat when I am hungry and wear what I like. I sometimes snooze on the grass and sleep like a child at night.
I may have forgotten how to drive and instead have rediscovered how to walk fast up hills. I am spending more time outside than inside, sawing trees and bonfiring.
I didn’t know that being feral was different from being wild. ‘Wild’ is a creature which has never been tamed, but ‘feral’ is one which was tamed and then escaped. ‘Escaped from domesticity’ so the definitions say. Yes dishes still get washed and clothes hung out to dry, beds are changed, floors hoovered and even the shelves have lost their circles of winter dust, but I am escaping and wildish nature is taking over once again.
Domesticity means ‘brought under human control’. When something is ‘taken from the wild and used for your own purposes’. You know how I love my work, I’ve written about it before, but there is a shift in balance now, more freedom. No commute, no dressing for work, no rushing the kids hither and thither, no need to remember dinner money, packed lunches or PE kit.
‘Domesticated animals adapt over time to routines and human control’ and I can see that I have been domesticated too. As a child of the seventies, I would disappear up a cherry tree with a friend for hours returning home when we were hungry or it was getting dark. We would play out round the roads and no one knew where we were, there were no phones, fewer cars, no where else to be and nothing much to do. Wild children playing hide and seek in the concrete pipes on the building sites, wild children playing kiss dare with the boys, wild children scraping knees and collecting blackberries and conkers, picking wild flowers.
We camped in heavy, canvas bell-tents, cooked over fires build from collected wood. We washed in icy water and didn’t see a mirror for a week or more. We sang songs around the campfire, washed dishes on a stand we had lashed with string. We were woken by the chomp of deer by our heads and fell asleep to ghost stories.
Then we were domesticated. Rules, school, homework, study, university, work. Tick tock, keep to the clock. The wild became a place to visit for an hour here or there, sandwiched between long flights or car journeys, the only time when I really felt time free.
‘Domesticated animals adapt not only physically, but mentally to living in captivity and so then can’t survive alone’. I had began to think that work, routine and time were my spine, my bones, but it turns out I was wrong. I am still standing, but also crawling, sniffing, rolling, stretching, fingering the dirt, smelling the grass, lying supine face to the sky, losing myself in the bird symphony, rediscovering what it means to let the sun rise me and the moon put me to bed. Rediscovering family, books, curling up and just gazing, at emptiness.
Feral things, so it says, don’t like being recaptured, don’t want to be re-domesticated, don’t want to leave their wild state. I feel my claws strengthening, my eyes sharpening, my skin toughening, my thoughts slowing, my voice clarifying, my spine lengthening, my bare feet growing calloused, my arms strengthening, my hair tangling, my wildish awakening, my feral salivating with desire for flesh and life.
And I like it.