A grand day out

Monday May 29, 2006

My morning chores done—not that morning chores amount to much when you’re living in a caravan—I set out on my medicine walk. It was a pleasant, sunny morning, albeit with a stiffish breeze, and my knees felt good so, filled with unaccustomed bravery, I turned left at the end of the dingley path, along the hedge, and down the steep green tunnel to the beach. Taking it easy, and resting between each flight of steps, I made it without difficulty, and stepped out on to the shingles for the first time since we got here.

And my world exploded into light. The skies were suddenly as wide as the planet, the stiffish breeze became a refreshing wind from the sea, and the thin cloak of depression I’ve been experiencing these past couple of days vanished in the sunshine.

Ye gods and little fishes but that felt good.

I picked my way carefully over the pebbles and on to the sand. And then I really did feel good, being able to walk along in a fair imitation of a stride, filling my lungs with good seaside air and relishing the almost deserted beach—only two other people in sight.

I’d taken my camera with me and snapped merrily away at each stage of the walk, intending to record the venture for a future photo album.

Mostly, though, I just looked, and breathed.


Walking on the beach


You can walk all the way to Kilve from this point, following the beach round the cliffy headlands, but I fear I’m not up to that kind of distance. When I got to the second set of steps, the rickety ones you’re not supposed to use, I decided not to tempt fate, so I set off back up to the camp, clambered over the fence, and went over to the clubhouse to scrounge a coffee.

“What on earth happened to your hair?” Graham asked.

“I’ve been down for a walk on the beach.”

“Windy out there, is it?” Maude chimed in.

“Yup. Good, though.”

And then I plodded back to the caravan to prepare our lunch, anticipating a well-earned siesta.

It was still light after dinner and I’d run out of American ginger ale to go with my brandy, so I went back to the clubhouse. On my way home, the sunset was just about to end as the golden orb sank into the sea, so I sat on a bench to watch it go. Walking back home, thinking about sunsets, and watching them, and feeling the planet roll, I came suddenly to realize that I was pacing out a new poem. Not a great poem, nor a long one—it’s only a short way from the bench to the caravan door—but a poem for all that. I’ve had a grand day.


Watching the sunset
The sun slides into the sea, seemingly,
illuminating a lens-shaped, prism-edged cloud,
catching the sail of a wind-beating yacht,
drawing a thin flake-white line along the horizon.
The sun sinks out of sight,
the planet continues to roll towards me,
and I realize how easy it would be to fall off.
John Bailey
May 2006, Somerset



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