a gift of peace and quiet
It was a cold, blustery, bleak day when Apollo the nose-kissing Malamute hitched a ride on my back seat from a south London pound to Cheltenham Animal Shelter. Not an ideal day to go listening, but, I reasoned, at least not many people would want to be out and about so I may get some places to myself. So after dropping Apollo (and a piece of my heart) in Cheltenham, I went on a listening tour of Gloucestershire.
First on the list was Climperwell Spring, one of the sources of the Gloucestershire River Frome. As I drew near, I felt a sense of lightness and joy; even the light here was brighter. I felt immediately welcome. My delight was tempered somewhat by the sight of a man approaching from the opposite direction. To my shame, I sped up and, as was my intention, I reached the spring before he did. He continued walking past me. Result! I had the place to myself.
I sat in front of the spring and felt the same stirring of joy. I could hear a gallimaufry of birds and a far distant plane. The spring sang a song of youthful delight, adventure and promise. It invited me to ask for something I wanted. Oh, I don’t know, I replied, how about an unexpected gift?
After about 10 minutes, I looked over my shoulder and saw the man sitting on a wall. It was a respectful distance away, so I hadn’t even felt his presence. I got the sense that he was patiently waiting for me to finish. I took another five minutes to really savour the joy I could feel all around me and then, feeling that I had had my turn, I left. As a walked back to my car, I passed the man, who was eating a sandwich. “Thank you” I mouthed to him. He smiled and nodded back. When I got back to my car, I saw him put his half eaten sandwich away and set off toward the spring.
Peace. Quietude. Time and space to have a place all to myself. I had indeed been given an unexpected gift by a stranger.