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
the body creaky at first
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
Scent of damp earth
Scent of cow dung
Green grass, ferns, blackberries
Other pilgrims walk by; we are slow.
Small waterfall reflecting the sun into our eyes
Cross the highway with heads turning like owls
No cars or trucks
Curved stone barns connected to houses in a village
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
Body moving on its own now
More effort to stop than to walk
A brown cow, green field
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 -- carefully
Still cold and now tired
The next village?
A cluster of loved stone houses around a small chapel
No cafe, no bar, no coffee
another tiny village.
Not Now either.
The river valley,
water so clear trout lurk in the shadows
others darting then still
A farm with a big smiling-bodied dog who follows along a fence
A pig eating acorns in a shady field
Feet start to complain
Another village, no coffee.
Farms and stone houses
A sandwich board with a collection of walking sticks leaning against a stone wall
A cafe in an old farmhouse!
The bliss of feet freed from gravity and the warm, bitter, and sweet of coffee with milk!