At the start of one of our journeys to enlightenment at a Wildlife Trust walk called Furze Hills
Meandher love our lonely walks. Solitary silence apart from the many voices of nature. That state of being often compels one to go walking in a 'lonely' place. A secluded place and the thing is - It's not like I'm roaming with a Rottweiler is it? Or gambolling with a German Shepherd? I'm meandering with a Maltese terrier. A gammy legged one at that.
Being an only child, having no children and being self sufficient in all things gets you believing yourself to be enduring. In rare moments of awareness I panic when I realise I am damn well not. I guess I must be human, after all then? Bloody hell you should have said, mother. Kidding me on all these years…
One problem I have is I'm anti-social. The highest Highlands of Scotland are made for me. If I secretly move us into a remote cottage somewhere at the foot of a Highland mountain will they know? What bliss…
Anyway, back on our Lincolnshire walk, we were dripping sweat and bemoaning the sun as we Brits do. Trudging - we do that a lot too - as I searched for answers. Because often I feel desperate. Panicked, even. I have no one. The reasons for that situation are more than being childless and probably deserve a literary novel. Being childless is like a signpost to being something else. Sorry, I don't mean to sound obtuse but out it spews.
This is what I do on our walks. Particularly when the walk possesses a magical quality. You cut through the puerile. And you almost grasp that which you reach for. The truth, enlightenment, answers. As we crack on along our footpath I know that one day, on our magical, mystery walk, our own particular end of the rainbow will present itself. Then what? Could go one of many ways. I'd lay bets, in meandlilley's case, and I bet it won't be a pretty sight.
Magical, mystery alright - straight into the nearest cut. This is near a Lincs Wildlife Trust walk called Furze Hills. She's always up to her knees in water. Strange, little dog. Still we found no answers...yet.
You can see why I spend so much of my time alone with a scruffed up dog, can't you? But I will say this, being without children, grandchildren, and now - without parents, siblings anyone. You go deep. A deep dive into your own murky waters of scary. It has to be done. I have to survive this isolation and self sufficiency.
To anyone out there who's bothering to read this and nowadays I'm not sure? Is it better as alone, childless, to live your life on the supersurface and don't think about 'stuff'. Or the other? Go dark, dive deep…
Because it came to pass - as we 'wandered lonely as a cloud' like the great English poet, William Wordsworth sitting amongst the Lake District daffodils. We wandered lonely as a cloud amongst the Lincolnshire cow parsely but pretty enough. This really is one of Lil's favourites. She can run, dash, backsides up in the nearest ditch. She dives deep quite a lot of the time, to be honest.
A pretty, mystical meander along a footpath at Salmonby, near the Wolds village of Tetford, Lincolnshire. But lonely. That word, again and my late mother's warning words about not walking remote footpaths alone.
'Cos this is what happens - it sends you doolally for a few moments and you think you can 'make shapes'. You'll note she's nowhere in sight - apart from her lead. She's legged it. Goodness, apologies for the state of my pins
As we trudged and meandered we managed to overcome our non existent fears and arrived at the gate of 'the horses' field which belongs to a beautiful 16.2 hands grey boy and his friend - a tiny, palamino girl. The grey recognises us now so, ambling over to greet us at his gate, he bowed his noble head to kiss Lilley (I picked her up, obviously). Lilley subjected herself to this treatment, having been slobbered over by handsome horse James, during our visit to Kaf Barriball's place at Rainbow Dreaming stables recently. She's now learning how to kiss a horse's nose - carefully. The grey turned his attention to me. I was pretty down, that afternoon. It hadn't been a good day for me, to be honest. He allowed me to put my arm around his neck and lean against him whilst he blew horsey breaths into my hair. Very gently he nuzzled my neck and we stood there in silence. Neither of us moved nor 'spoke'. Just stood. Me and a horse at his gate.
See, I used to be around horses a lot as a young'un. Always riding at weekends I ended up working as a groom in a (breathe it) hunting stables in Leicestershire for 18 months. Yes, I went hunting - three times, OK? I was ignorant with youth and it was my job. One of the most famous hunts in the land - the Quorn. (I am very much anti-hunt, by the way, before it starts).
Anyway, I lived in a superb flat over the garages (I was 17 at the time) with head groom, Madeleine, who left after a while during the foot and mouth outbreak so it was just me caring for four horses in the middle of the Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire.
One of the horses under my care was the most handsome of greys and my boss's horse - Bally. An Irish hunter at 17.2 hands. (That's a big horse, by the way). When my parents came over to see me my dad, who adored horses as much as I did/do, would make straight for Bally. He and my boss got on so well, they would stand at Bally's stable door chatting, whilst the horse 'head nodded' up and down between the two of them.
I have a photo of my dad patting Bally in his stable. If I find it I will add it to the page. In the meantime -
I love this walk. Not so sure, Lil?
And then, back to the walk, there I was with the animal world's most sensitive creature - the horse - understanding my mood. He didn't move as a photo flash of my dad stood at Bally's stable door, manifested in my brain. Thus, I had that quiet, unexpected but intense weep you have when you're overcome with memories - good or bad. Mine were good, of course. My dad and Bally. My dad, who I rarely think of - and that not to be taken in a bad way. He had quiet strength. It's slightly weird that his image manifests in my head a lot, lately. You wish with all your heart they were properly stood at your side. My dad and Bally - it's a joyful thing.
Here was a different, handsome, grey equine head leaning against mine, quietly allowiing me to share. Sadness, memories, loss.
Animals can be the channel for the sharing of one's grief and emotions. We all of us, childless or otherwise, know sadness and loss, I expect. But when you have no one to share your, quite often, sudden and overwhelming wave of grief with - it's reach for the nearest animal. I love the way they just stand and take your sobbing, mumbling, hanging round their necks without question.
But I do believe horses take the red rosette for empathy.
Oh, and you Lilley, naturally.
So it came to pass that a horse's field off a remote Lincolnshire Wolds footpath, has become our new place for a bit of emotive sharing.
He always sees us - at the gate - our grey horse. And he always comes to us. I don't know his name but I shall call him Bally.
On her log at Bag Enderby (we get about a bit).
We finish at Lilley's walk along Furze Hills near Hagworthingham, Lincolnshire. If we've not found our answer it might be because we've forgotten the question..