Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

May 7

May 7th, 2016

May 7


Agriculture– the Camino might be a strong financial engine for this region, but clearly farming defines the people’s lives. The way passed villages that were more clusters of barns than towns, smelling strong but good. An elderly man walking his dog embodied the spirit, a certain joy in his smile and enthusiastic “buen camino.” Last night’s rain cleared today–clouds with patches of blue. When showing optimism for better weather, my mother used to say of the sky, “there is enough blue to knit a Dutchman a pair of pants.” I have no earthly idea where that saying comes from (nor do I want to know), but I invoked it today on setting out. When not crossing pastures, the way wandered in forests–either scrub oak or white pine plantations with the occasional cluster of ancient chestnuts. There were magnificent stone walls, but also stone slab fencing: thin slabs two feet across and three high, almost like a row of headstones, but not so solemn. The pastures and fence rows were all in bloom. Today yellow and purple lupines made their entrance in the swales of grass land. In front of an old stone house up a hill, a very old man swung a scythe clearing the new growth from the gateway. He stopped, pulled out his stone and with several dexterous swipes freshened his edge and continued cutting. I imagined him as a young man, standing there with the same scythe, swinging with more strength but perhaps not with the same skill and method. The land’s footprints here go deep into the past.

T. Hugh Crawford