In the evening I walk. Often I do in the morning too, wrapped up against a veil of mist that shrouds as the lightest rain leaving my skin dewdamp. But the evenings are prettier. And warmer. So that I shed layers as I go. The sun has burned a hole through the cloud which sits low on our high hills, and I can admire my views. See where I am going. Watch fields unfurl with every summit.
Pili comes with me. Racing riot with every scent. And, at the moment, whichever of my summerholiday children can stir themselves. Sometimes we talk all the way round. Sometimes we stride companionably silent, keeping our breathing in check. Nobody wanting anybody else to know they’re the least fit. It’s hard not to pant marching up hills at 6 500 ft above sea level.
The sunshine has peeled back the grey and the blueness of sky rests upon the absurd green of tea, ‘a sea of green’, I say to Hat. Sometimes, from my new home perched on a hill, I watch the pickers, dressed in bright yellow waterproofs, move through the tea, as brilliant as canaries painted upon a lime green canvas. Panniers strapped to their backs, they move methodicaly through the rows, deftly harvesting twoleavesandabud as they go, the murmur of laughter rolls up towards me, a chorus of conversation amplified by the valley.
Our Nazi built home crouches on a hillside so that the last leg is always the most arduous, ‘I hate this bit’, says Hat as she clambers up the path through pruned trees. I do too but I don’t have the puff left to say so. I snort in agreement instead.
But the house breathes smoke, the fires are lit, hot baths beckon. And a beer, which I drink wrapped up warm on the verandah, against the chill which descends fast, as quickly as the sun vanishes behind the hills, the forest etched boldly as the light distills whiskey gold. I can pick out the detail of every tree. I sit and watch for as long as I can bear, I pile on the layers I shed on my walk. The sky glows rosily, a parting blush.
And then my view is gone.