After an absolutely exhausting two days of ceaseless scurrying (frenzied packing, walking (or running, depending on how late we were for our train, exploring (hah!) the maze of the Underground and generally trying to be in two places at once) I fell sound asleep yesterday on the last leg of our journey north. We are spending two days in the Lake District as a gala ending to our trip and I had snuggled into my seat, jammed my earphones into my ears, curled up with my jacket and fallen asleep to the rhythmic sway of the train. It would be charitable to say I was tired and slightly irritated; in truth I was exhausted and long past even basic civility. And so I slept.
I woke to a dimmer light and the lazy clack of the slowing wheels as we pulled into one of our last stations. I glanced out the window, but I did not glance away. We had entered different country as I slept and as the train sped off again, my eyes were caught in gladness by the gradual swell of hills, of pattern-straight fields of deepest green flecked with sheep, the moody blue of a late summer sky edged with storm and the coming of dusk. My pulse, body and soul, began to slow.
We had an hour’s wait to change trains at one whistle-stop of a station and so hiked up the road to the village pub for fish and chips. I stepped out into the evening and felt awake and fuller of energy than I had all day. We began to walk. Our path led through a darkling forest of tangled vines and gnarled old trees that kindled an unexpected excitement in us and by the time we reached the pub we were chatting with an energy that had eluded us for days. We had our superbly fried fish and set back off down the hill to catch the last train.
And we were suddenly laughing. I laugh now to think of us last night, caught in an unexpected giddiness of life as we nearly skipped back down that curved ribbon of a road. There was crisp air all around us and we were gulping deep breaths of it, our eyes feasting on shadowy fields, our heads nodding to the rhythm of our feet and the friendly nods of the occasional driver. We were almost shocked at ourselves. And yet, for days we had been in the busy city, rushing to and fro, with barely an extra minute for hush in the morning or rest at even. And suddenly we were suffused with country stillness. In a way, it is unexplainable, but we felt so abruptly alive again. As if we had been half asleep with craze and modernity and were suddenly awake with fresh air; with hearty meals and unfettered hills.
It just got better at our B&B where we were greeted by our landlord Dick with a happy climb up to our attic nook and good cups of hot chocolate. We awoke this morning to misty skies and grey, brooding mountains and an impossibly big traditional English breakfast (which, for the uninitiated, means bacon, eggs, sausage, baked beans, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, tea and fruit). With that sort of energy, we’ll be roaming the hills all day.
But before we go, I wanted to write something here, for there is a welling up of life in me that surprises me with it’s vivacity. I didn’t realize how tired I had gotten. There are so many great things about this summer, I have learned and talked and grappled with ideas. But I didn’t realize how hungry I was for beauty and for rest until my whole self revived in the darkling beauty of last evening. How much I missed sky and long walks and quiet hours. But more importantly, how quickly my spirit was re-nourished simply by the site and contemplation of God’s lovely earth. For it is in large part the beauty, the tangible presence of wind and open air that livens my soul. I have woken today with a sense of being sated for the first time in awhile; as if the sight of fields and the enjoyment of creation could fill up a hunger in me, as if quiet could satisfy my thirst. That’s something to think about for awhile.
Perhaps I’ll muse on it as I wander my own wild hill in the mysterious mist…