The lessons from this adventure along the Offa's Dyke Trail--really, the reminders that I know in my heart, but get buried under the details of every-day life: Keep open to what I am experiencing around me! By mindful to take time and be in this openness, rather then rushing on to the next thing. And then seeing with wonder what new opens because of being open in the first place: new people to meet and walk with--for a passing moment or for days are equally as rich. The vistas, flora & fauna. Contemplating the thoughts & feelings inside me...as well as relishing my now quiet-brain that hums along with much fewer voices of distraction.
Tasting for a moment how easy, really, it all is, when I can get to this place of ease. And now--just like I found joy in the search-and-find of the acorn markers along the trail--I hold lightly this rediscovered ease and marvel playfully at continuing to keep this connection as I ease back into my 'regular' life.
AND being reminded of this important lesson: there is always a silver lining to those darned gray clouds. Losing the trail for a few hours meant meeting wonderful people I would not have met otherwise, or seeing flowers in a different quality of light, or being teased by a friendly & curious colt only just let into a field with her mum. As in life, when the unpleasant happens, who knows what wonderful things may occur as part of a chain of events.
What a privilege it is to be able to have the time for such journeys. I am reminded to continue to do this in life, because there is so much richness to gain. Phil the landlord (bartender-owner) of the Green Dragon pub, told me that a few days before, a couple who were 83 & 84 and were hiking the whole 177+ mile trail, and carrying their tent, sleeping bags, stoves, etc. I, too, want to be an old lady hiking along!
What a joy to have only a minimal agenda--2 plane tickets at the beginning & end, a 177 - 182 mile-long trail (lenght depends upon who you ask & which book or sign you look at!), and the details to be filled-in with each step. A pause to look at a raptor soaring on the wind, or a new wildflower; a laugh and shared moment with a fellow walker moving north-south rather then my south-north; which village should i stay in tonight?; always singing on the trail; singing on the top of a mountain, surrounded by sky, wind, and sheep, looking at the rolling hills to the west at Wales and east at England, with the coast--and the end of my hike--off in the distance.
And to eat perfectly cooked toast each morning! Brown & crunchy, not the half-baked toast I often find at US breakfast places.
And the eggs so fresh just gotten that morning, the yolks are more orange then yellow.
And strawberries, raspberries, bilberries, gooseberries & sour cherries picked & savored.
And sooo-tasty beer in the pubs on the trail, just cool & pulled rather then carbonated like at home. It takes longer to pull a beer then pour one in the US-way. I philosophized with Phil: the world would be a better place if US bars served pulled-beer, forcing us to slow down until our pint glasses are filled.
And sleeping in a variety of houses, farms, & inns--the majority of which were a minimum of 200 years old, with exposed beams of wood, floors slanting with age, and many with their own ghosts & spirits.
The always present electric teapot in each room--offering a welcome cup of tea or nescafe when a weary traveler arrives & first thing in the morning when the rested traveler awakes.
And washing my clothes in the sink in my room, hanging them to dry over night for the next day's walk.
Remembering the wonderful surprise Jeannet, Axel & I had when we came upon a field of barley also filled with 1000s of orange poppies. And a hillside covered with foxglove. A mountain range stained purple with blooming heather. Pausing in the rain to admire a field of oranges, purples, whites, reds & blues of wildflowers--all yelling their colors in the gray skies. Rolling hills of deep-green forests. The dark browns of the Mores, covered in scrub, and then to suddenly see a Kelly-green hill of grass rising above in the distance and dotted with the whites, browns & blacks of sheep, cows & horse . I was reminded of Dorothy walking out of black & white into technicolor.
And oh the birds!! So much serenading of so much variety while I walked on.
The rich & spicy flavors of West-African food served from a London street vendor, who kept filling my plate because I loved his food so much. I watched the Londoners pass by. They move so much faster then Welsh sheep.
And people are good. I did not meet one person who was not nice, friendly or helpful.
And truly relishing each step of the 18 miles of my second-to-last day of hiking. Many tiring steep ups & downs, lots of conversations & laughs shared with passers' by, a few miles walked with another, and the rest fully enjoyed walking with only me. Lots of singing & feeling strong as my legs carried me one more step forward towards the end of my journey. Feeling invigorated, if not slightly sad that this journey was nearly complete.
And on my last day, I met up with four others having lunch on a grassy hill. We completed the Offa's Dyke trail together, walking through the town of Prestatyn to the beach & the end of the trail. The tradition is to dip your toes into the water, which we all did with a joyful cry!
And as if on-cue, it began to rain. And continued to rain into the next day as I got on a train to London. This was the first time I saw constant rain like this--which is a very typical weather pattern--in all of my time on the trail.
How weird it was, to sit in a metal box for nearly 9-hours, only to step onto US soil. A day of sitting for as many hours a was my usual walk!
In the wise words of the prophet Willie Nelson, I can't wait to get on the road again...