Cold air leaving the cafe    

of warm, friendly women    

who were tired of endless pilgrims at the end of the season  

Their coffee is warm and good  

and cake homemade and fresh  

The road is not too busy  

Occasional big trucks  

We walk  

the body creaky at first  

knees complaining      

The valley in shadow waiting for the sun to creep over the hills

The river silent, then splashing, then rushing over a waterfall

Soon it becomes Now  

Step step

step step  

Scent of damp earth

Scent of cow dung

Green grass, ferns, blackberries  

Step step

step step  

Other pilgrims walk by; we are slow.

Small waterfall reflecting the sun into our eyes

Now

Cross the highway with heads turning like owls

No cars or trucks

Curved stone barns connected to houses in a village

crumbling

Almost no one here

Narrow lane with beautiful brick paving laid in complex designs of herringbone and fans

Shield on the front of an ancient, formerly loved house with almost no walls behind

The rest crumbled into rubble

This house, this village, was once loved

The river continues to flow and we walk, step step, step step, enclosed in a green tunnel

The narrow ancient lane defined by stone walls covered with moss and fern

ancient trees arch overhead

The stones of the lane feel solid

pulling down into the earth

The leaves and ferns aglow with light and energy

Specks of light float in the air and drift

Now

Body moving on its own now

Step step

step step  

More effort to stop than to walk

Each step

Now

A brown cow, green field

Now.

Trees define the edge of the field

The green-grey hills growing greener as the sun slides over the hill

Watch my footing on rocks

Step

step -- carefully

Now

Still cold and now tired

more coffee!

The next village?

A cluster of loved stone houses around a small chapel

No cafe, no bar, no coffee  

Not Now

Walk down,

walk up,

another tiny village.  

No coffee  

Not Now either.

The river valley,

water so clear trout lurk in the shadows

still

watching;

others darting then still

Step step

step step

A farm with a big smiling-bodied dog who follows along a fence

A pig eating acorns in a shady field

Now

Feet start to complain

Another village, no coffee.  

Trudge trudge

trudge trudge

Feet muttering

Farms and stone houses

Feet swearing

A sandwich board with a collection of walking sticks leaning against a stone wall

A cafe in an old farmhouse!  

Right Now!

The bliss of feet freed from gravity and the warm, bitter, and sweet of coffee with milk!