The wind fizzed through the seedless grass stalks as I lay there on the hillside. Not yet warm enough to remove my shirt and feel the sun on my skin, but certainly a promise of a better afternoon than yesterday. I had seen enough of cloudy days for a while, and was in need of a little warmth to restore my vitality.
Peering through my eyelashes, I could just make out the fine traces of the mares’ tail cirrus clouds appearing stationary in the sky, like sweeps of white paint from an almost dry brush across the cyan canvas. Feeling the warmth of the sun through my sweater, it was hard to imagine that those clouds were crystals of ice, hung out to dry on the jet-stream, travelling at high speed. It was only the fact that they were six miles above me that made them appear so still, unlike the occasional fluffy cumulus that blocked out the sun for a few seconds as it chuntered past and over the hill.
Allowing my eyelids to close again, I took pleasure in the thought that I had chosen to use today as an opportunity to take off and spend time communing with nature, in the company of no-one, and to just let the day wash over me. It was pretty quiet out here – just the breeze to sing to me, with the occasional lark trilling overhead as I’d slowly climbed the hillside. I was in no hurry to get to the top. I had no need even to arrive there at all. This wasn’t a conquering climb. I was more interested in the journey than the destination, and that journey could take all day as far as I was concerned. If I thought I had discovered the right spot – this hollow out of the wind but facing the sun – I might not even go any further.
I had breakfasted like a king – a solid meal that would last me all day, so no need to carry anything with me either. This was really how I liked to travel, wearing just enough to keep me from the cold - not overburdened with unnecessary items “just in case” there was rain, or I got hungry or thirsty. Sometimes it was good to have to make the best of what you had – no insurance, just resourcefulness or resolution. Besides, I was no more than an hour or two from comfort in any direction – nothing much would harm me today.
Lying supine like this with my face to the sun was more than pleasant, it was positively heart-warming. It was almost impossible not to smile at my good fortune at the situation I had arrived in. I breathed deep and slowly, making each breath take a little longer than the last, stretching my lungs to their full extent, and exhaling until there was no breath left inside them. This really was just what I needed – a complete change of air.
The feel of the turf beneath my back was pure delight – sufficiently yielding to allow my bones to rest easy, yet supportive enough to not create pressure on any particular part of my body. There wasn’t even any jutting stone or misplaced pebble to cause me discomfort. It was as if the earth had been moulded around my form, then sown with grass years earlier, in preparation for my arrival at this place, at this time.
The slope of the hillside was just sufficient to allow me to look straight across the valley to its southern side if I lifted my head slightly. The shadows were long on that side, as the sun was not high enough in the sky to have long been shining over the ridge. I picked out a house high up the valley side, at the end of a road that ran like a shallow diagonal slash across the hillside, and I thought how unfortunate its inhabitants, to always look out on sunshine, but to live most of the year in shadow themselves. Not for me, that one.
Relaxing my neck, I closed my eyes again, and sank once more into my reverie.
Oh yes – this was the life for me, alright.
I’d had enough of people for a while. It wasn’t that they were uncaring, it was more that they were just too busy to see beyond their own manufactured misery; constantly chasing after the next style, the next acquisition, the next necessity, the next whatever, and getting into all sorts of debt to do it. The problem as I saw it was that they never actually appreciated anything that they already had, and didn’t take the time to learn to enjoy it before moving on to the next big thing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m no Luddite – whose only desire is to stay put on this earth and never learn anything new, or do anything different. I’m as inquisitive as the next man – possibly even more so than him. It’s just that I find it difficult to get caught up in the perpetual tail-chasing that is modern social living.
I’ve always worked hard in my life, and enjoyed doing so – never thinking that the world owed me a living, and never coveting what I couldn’t afford. Of course, there have been times when I have wished that life could have been a little easier – times perhaps when I could have thrown caution to the wind and taken a little more time out, but looking back over it all, I am satisfied that all has gone very well.
The sun continued to shine, and I felt myself drifting, with nothing more to think about than the smile on my face, and the knowledge that I could do this anytime I liked, now that my six numbers had come up.