It was an amazing sunny day, made especially wonderful because the rain clouds were gone and the wind raged somewhere else - such a relief! We decided to get some fresh air - go for a walk. Although we could have opened our doors and just walked out, we decided to go further afield - To walk to the other side of the mountain, the one which greets us everyday when we look out of our window. The view of which offers us a fresh and unique vision, sculpted by the clouds and sunsets, which visit it without fail every day. Today we decided to take a look at its other side and the hills rolling out beyond.
As we approached the long mucky track forking off to the left of the road, a surprising number of cars were parked along the verge. I remembered how the track was long and suggested we drive further up to save our legs - walking along steady inclining stony, puddly and very muddy tracks isn't my idea of fun! We parked further up, near the full overflowing mountain stream abundantly rolling across the path and tumbling down over the edge through, olive heather, lichen and russet bracken, dropping steeply into the folding valley - I wondered at the height of the 'water table' and how high it must be! - Large pools of water lay everywhere capturing the bright reflection of the clear blue skies, flat and still and glistening. The hills around here are ancient and craggy, steep sided and rounded at the same time. The soil thin, supporting closely nibbled grass, gorse and common Spike Rush. The intermittent cream dots of sheep graze head first up the hills, standing to attention occasionally to sudden passers by. Birds of prey glide effortlessly above and below us into the steep valleys below. Imitating these natural fliers are what appear to be hang gliders swooping around a conical mountain to the side of us, but they are visibly much smaller, we deduct that they are radio controlled by enthusiasts out of view. They swoop and lift with such grace it is difficult to tell the difference between the unreal and the real. We watch in amazement for quite some time. (I managed to take two photos before my camera battery ran out! but here are a few from days gone by . . . . . . . . . )
In the distance I recognise a derelict house, so fallen and crumbling it is hard to say it was a house at all, only the weathered chimney stack gives it away. I remembered coming across this lonely relic, some years ago and memories of how I had felt then, came tumbling back. It wasn't long after moving to this area that we had found this place, and we sat on some of these ancient stones and looked out into the valley wondering what it must have been like to live and farm here, so high up. I had had a distinct feeling of having been here before, a recognition, a memory, a feeling of 'home'. It was such a strong feeling, one I rarely have, and this had made a real impression on me.
As we slowly wound down into the valley, there were smallholdings we hadn't recalled seeing before, reaffirming how fragile memory really is and how vulnerable that can make you feel. Ageing isn't the easiest thing! Nevertheless I wend slowly downward, happily feeling the warmth in my red waterproof boots, which were a bit big, but I knew it would be muddy and wet so had decided to wear them anyway. I noticed how comfortable they were and how surprised I was. When we reached the bottom of the hill and met a junction we had to decide which way to go.
Whilst pondering, a sore, gritty sensation was coming into my awareness, it was in my boot around my heel. I tugged at my jeans which were tucked into my socks thinking they might be causing discomfort, but no easing. As I fussed and tried to move this sensation out and on its way, it became apparent that I had a blister forming on the back of my ankle!
AArrrgh! How bizarre just after saying to myself how pleased I was that my boots were so good.
I found a mound of grit next to the hedge piled seat-high on the verge of the lane, I slumped down and began to remove my boot hoping I might be able to relieve it by readjusting. I found the cause, a rough seam at the back of the boot. It was too late, a soreness was already established. I couldn't see properly though because I had black tights on so couldn't get to it! I put my boot back on and shoved my leather glove in behind my ankle hoping it might take some pressure off - to no avail! I couldn't believe it, all was going so well.
"why didn't I bring a plaster!" I chastise, vowing to always have one in the future.
I suddenly remember a friend lives just down the road to the right, about a half mile or so. I suggest we go there, get a plaster and maybe a cup of tea too! This idea isn't greeted with enthusiasm "what if he's not in?" is the answer to that.
"How wonderful that would be - a plaster and a cup of tea" I mused, letting it all go.
Moments later a black SUV passed the gap in the high hedges at the junction, a short swift view of it. Seconds later it had reversed back into view and a man jumped out! Looking down towards me, he says "Are you all right! Have you sprained your ankle? I was shocked. I didn't look hurt, I wasn't grimacing, just sitting on this mound of grit, putting on my boot. We looked at each other bewildered. Suddenly everything seemed very important. Was I hurt? No I didn't think so, I just had the beginnings of a blister - "No, no," I say "I've just got a blister, I'm O.k. - thank you so much" I implore, amazed by his concern - so kind. Unwilling to let it go at that, he rummaged for ideas of how to help me. "I've got a first aid kit in the back, I haven't used it but its probably got a plaster"!
'Wow', I think, remembering my thoughts just moments ago.
"A plaster would be amazing" I respond, recalling at the same time my tights, and envision having to strip off or ripping them to get the plaster on! neither a likely possibility, it looks like a decline.
"I'm just taking my mother home, she lives just around the corner" pointing to the left " you can hop in if you like and I can take you back to your car after I've dropped her off, it'll only take about ten minutes, you could have a cup of tea too if you wanted".
He continued as we looked at each other in amazement. We had sudden decisions to make. Terminate the walk? get a lift? struggle on in pain? get a plaster and maybe be all would be well after that? Have tea? -
"Oh wow" I said, "tea sounds good! are you sure that wouldn't put you out?" .
"Of course not - hop in" he says, introducing us to his mum through the window and opening the door at the back for us to get in.
"just shove that lot over". We shuffle in, thanking him profusely still amazed, that this perfect stranger should be so willing to put himself out for us. I relaxed back into the seat and knew he was an 'Earth Angel' or a 'Good Samaritan' - someone who wanted, or perhaps needed, to help someone today. Our 'stories' had collided and had melted perfectly into one another, we had served each other, and somehow the unlikely miracle had happened, in moments. In my receiving his hospitality I was inadvertently giving too.
I was able to go to the bathroom fix the plaster, have a cup of tea, chat about ancestors, reminisce about his childhood and get a lift to a place we had never walked before, which, as it turned out, completed our circle perfectly, past some ancient standing stones and back to our car from the other side.
Amazing! and 'Thank you kind stranger'.