Poo-Tin = Putin
Her smile helped me escape their onslaught. Sinking in to her presence was akin to bathing in soft golden light - such a delight after their intensity. When my friends had moved on up the rocky riverside path, noticing my fragility, these people swooped down on me as I continued to sit at the sun splashed table there between two rivers bounded by immense walls of greenery which reflected the multiple noises rising from the bouncing waters.
A while earlier, my friend C, over from California for this walking week, had with great patience ensured I made my way from the car and down the steep path to this haven. Birdsong filled the air as people puffed up the incline or sped down the narrow path and we talked little, enjoying the sublime silence of the mind we often enjoy when together. At one point as we shared a bench, C said an article she had read stated the brain’s preoccupation was with the minute management of the multiple functions of the body, little is left over for the mind where we assume our life happens. I had told her that a consultant had explained that my recently seizures had arisen as the brain adjusted to the many major problems my body has recently undergone.
Watersmeet, the haven between those bounding rivers, was bathed in light and we settled at the table where her husband and another of our friends sat. After five minutes, they three, also slightly encumbered, rose to attempt the walk upriver to meet Camilla and three other fighting-fit folk for a pub-lunch during their long, long hilly and cliffy walk. This was our daily rhythm, each doing what we could manage. It was intended that I rest and nap for an hour, then take my time back up the hill to the car which had carried us less fit ones to this beauty spot. But that was not to be.
Ignoring my obvious exhaustion, perhaps even because of it, C later suggested, they tried their hardest to convert me to Born Again-ism, a creed which defined evolution as the devil’s curse which had blinded us all. I was surprised how quickly my truly weary mind revived and began a counter attack, gently of course, for who am I to try to change the way anyone thinks. My ploy was to re-weave their statements towards a creed of tolerance. To pay them for their insensitivity, I had fun teasing their blind assertions with Eastern theory - hitching a lift on the complex back of Hinduism and the sharp knife of Buddhism. That I failed was inevitable, such folk are not tolerant of other creeds.
And then she smiled, giving me a way of escaping. I rose and discovered my friends had all ready told her I might need help getting back up the hill. However, the help she provided was the balm of her easy, open presence. We must have spent twenty minutes dancing through the ethers together, talking about the glory of nature surrounding us, which my assailants had said god had provided for mankind. That I had told them this was a selfish view had cut no mustard. Jo, for that was her name, works for the National Trust and her task was to remove invasive foreign plants from the surrounding forest and, where these had been, to replant local species she had carefully uprooted.
It was time to go and meet the gathered group. Jo told me to shout her name should I need help and she’d run up and bring me back down and drive me up, up, up to my car on her quad bike. Glowing from her effulgent company, I lingered upon the wooden bridge, allowing the abundance of nature to shower my being. This, for me, is sufficient. I don’t require a creed, a faith, nor any purpose other than simply resting in being alive. This ‘new trend’ of nature-bathing has been my habit since childhood when I’d linger sensing nature with my tribal friends in the Kenyan bush. Slowly, slowly, I rose painfully up the slope I would have stepped up just over a year ago.
I slept in the car for a while, then drove up and over the interlocking valleys. Camilla and our friends clapped me in as I parked beside the pub. Later, we laughed upon seeing a Poo-Tin sign stuck on a dog-litter bin. They joked that Putin, with the effect his foul war has had on fuel, transport and food, has been a greater instigator of Green Thinking than they with all their decades of hard work. Back in the 1990s, concerned about Global Warming, we had talked and organised campaigns, me in my small way, they drawing-in star actors, super-bands and world figures to help… and to what effect… nobody listened. Until now?
After five wonderful, powerful days, we sadly bid farewell to our extraordinary friends. How long will it be until C and I can again touch souls? But, each in their own remarkable way, they have The Planet to save. Those remarkable characters too humble to accept accolade, those global movers & shakers (no kidding), have dedicated their lives to this single thing. Without such characters the future would be even more bleak.
Returning home from this extraordinary holiday, utterly exhausted, utterly revived, first thing this morning they entered my little world as I sipped tea from the Japanese Raku tea-bowl they presented me with yesterday. Camilla too will ‘meditate’ whilst drinking from this beautiful gift.