This week as I write, I am away from my village – and away from Tramp, while I stay with friends in a big city. I’ve savoured the sights, and the cuisine. I’ve worked diligently through the guidebook to leave no corner unexplored, no historical fact unacknowledged. I’ve felt the pace, loaded with anticipation. Now I’m ready to return home.
I’ve walked along hard streets and now find I miss soft clay beneath my feet (even where it means dodging the quagmire churned by horses’ hooves). I’ve felt the texture of smooth granite and polished brass handles and I miss the roughness of a splintering fencepost and the cold, wet rust of a gate’s chain. I’ve wandered through department stores and clothes’ rails, and now I miss the brush of a stray leafy branch against my face.
I miss the hammering of woodpeckers that you never see, the hedgerows alive with chirruping birdsong and the pad of Tramp’s soft footfall at my side. I miss the blanket of silence as night falls, broken by an owl’s cry or the impossible trill of a nightingale. Instead I’ve settled into the continuous growl and rumble of traffic, mingled with a screech of brakes or a distant call of car horns.
And the bitter odour of engines rising from the street is no substitute for the freshness of clean Spring leaves after rain, its sharp greenness lingering above where the air is earthy and still, deep in the woods.Of course I’ve met some friendly people here, but I miss those I know in my village, and the time they take to greet and to talk about nothing of consequence, when considered at a city level. I’m looking forward to being among them with Tramp, enjoying the familiarity of home – something I could not feel it so intensely had I not been away.