The avenues of trees seem to beckon to me, as if pushed on by the slight breezes which swoop like swallows and house-martins, careening across the sky in arcs and loops. The winds might push the trees slightly, but it merely accentuates the sentiments felt by the wooden giants, from the deepest roots to the youngest of leaves, still-green and proudly bearing fruit for the first time.
As I wander across these never-ending plains, occasionally interspersed with such wild woods, I know that my home lies far behind me and, although she is calling me back to her, her cries have become ever quieter but even more painful.
I take a cigarette from my jacket and light a match. A sudden gust extinguishes it before I can raise it to my lips. I return the cigarette to its case in my jacket, thinking of the stiller times that lie ahead of me. I don’t need it yet, I think to myself. A romantic attempt at reassurance and I can’t help but smile quietly.
My feet are pleased to be back in these old boots. The creases in the leather console every inch of my feet and caress my toes with promises of far-away lands and softer trails. The soles have become one with my body and spirit and I feel as if they could never be worn down.
The years have passed so quickly. Staying in one place for so long is out of my character. On reflection, my true character was merely lying in wait, resting whilst a new and temporary one took over. Before I knew it, my son was not only born but walking towards me, arms wide open and a smile to match. I shall have to go back for him someday, so that he can walk with me and I can teach him all I know. He may resent my departure at first, but I should expect that, for I can completely relate to him. Though he will not be expecting that, he will understand when he is older and has seen and felt things that only nature can show to him.
The light is fading quickly now and, for a split second, I felt a pang in the upper-left part of my chest as I thought back to that beautiful, unimaginable and inimitable image of my love with our son nestled perfectly and as comfortable as could ever be in his warm sleep in her arms. She sits elegantly by the fireside, and as her own eyes slip closer and closer together, her head falls deeper and deeper towards her perfect form, all drawn together by the forces of slumber. I shall never forget that sight, that vision of perfection. With the curtains drawn, the doors bolted securely shut and the fire for protection from the harsh, cold exterior, nothing could harm them for that instant. It was paradise.
Bells peal out, waking me from my evening daydream. The russet tones of the trees on either side of the valley are reflected in the river’s silver shades. I take comfort in my solitude, but know that people are never too far away from me for those times when company is needed or even desired. Eventually, I find the source of the bells. There is an abbey perched on an outcrop. I can see the top of the towers as they elegantly and majestically stride over the tops of the trees. Soon they will be bare and the towers will turn from beautiful to imposing against the starkness of the trunks and branches.
I head up towards the abbey, my hands sinking further into my pockets, desperately trying to find warmth in the depths of the lining of my jacket against the flurries which have increased in strength and frequency. I’d like to think that someone or something is trying to make me turn back and head for the place I called “home” for so long, but I won’t allow myself such flattery. If they could hear me, they would know that it is not yet time for me to return.
The fields outside the abbey have been freshly ploughed, suggesting company, warmth, smiles. There is one path that leads directly across the fields which the ploughman kindly left for people like me to take. And so I do. I chuckle to myself when I think that it would be rude not to do so. Although my feet have strayed slightly while walking along it, occasionally treading on the bare earth, I do not mind. No-one will know. I arrive at the door and am welcomed in by a plainly-clad monk. Although the habits of him and his Brothers fit the stereotypes suggested by the stories told of these ‘Men’, something about them seems strange and goes against my better judgement. However, my feelings of discomfort soon subside when compared to my desire to spend the night under the stars. One Brother places his arm around my shoulder and leads me inside. All the while another closes the door behind me. The fire is roaring and I can smell meat roasting. Tonight will set me up for another day; of that much I am sure.