Thanks to Tigerhawk
I very much want to thank Tigerhawk for guest-blogging while I took a four day break. Two of those days were unfortunately attended by a flu. But by the third day it proved possible to take the vagabond road trip I had been looking forward to, the point of which is not to know any more than 30 minutes in advance where to go next. The most practical way to do that is getting dropped off in some random place and walking towards the most interesting looking terrain, almost like Richard Hannay in the 39 Steps but without the pressure of pursuit.
Part of the fun in these cases is allowing the road plan to develop based on how far you can walk; the likelihood of finding a place to sleep; and where it might be interesting to eat. My luck varied from a greasepit in which the coin-operated Internet terminal had live roaches crawling under the glass panel which protected the monitor screen from vandals -- lending the act of reading email the atmosphere of a horror movie -- to a very decent place that served braised meat over a bed of mashed sweet potato garnished with wilted spinach leaves; leading to a momentary fear that I had entered one of those places where you leave both hungry and broke, but which proved in the end to be an excellent establishment.
But it was walking along the roads and trails that soon retaught what I had forgotten: that it takes at least half a day before you finally recover senses that have fallen into disuse in the course of daily work; before you start to hear the birds in the tree branches, feel the wind as you meet it topping a rise, and notice people going about their small chores. Towards evening it became possible to stop; not simply physically, but actually and not feel it a waste of time; to think it worthwhile to pick out a vantage and from it watch the land beneath change under the passing clouds. For a companion I had Edward Plunkett's The Charwoman's Shadow with which I was wholly unacquainted but which was a fortunate choice. The book deals with such serious matters as whether echoes ever die and the ways in which a man might follow his shadow to his first and true love in ways beautiful enough to call forth the admiration of William Butler Yeats. But in the end, despite the book and the birds it came time not to follow my shadow but the road home. And here I am. Hope to start posting again tomorrow.