Tuesday, 10 November 2009

I was just thinking of something that happened when I was on my coastal walk. It was near the beginning of my second month walking; I was in East Anglia, following a lane beside the Alde estuary towards the sea. It was a dry morning after heavy overnight rain, and the sun was shining down onto the wet tarmac through gaps in the large trees that bordered the lane. It was the sort of lane which cars pass along once in a blue moon. I was toiling along with my mind firmly entrenched on various topics. As I passed a farm I heard a quiet voice calling to me.

The voice was coming from my behind and to my left; I turned around and there was no-one there. I glanced through a gap in the hedge; there was no-one in the field. Then I heard the voice again. Only then did I see her.

A girl, scarcely over ten, was firmly embedded within the branches of a bald, autumnal tree. She asked me what I was doing, and we chatted for a few minutes. She was so high up that I had to crane my neck to see her, but at no time did I ask if she was okay, if she needed any help; her carefree tone showed that she was in no trouble. It was as if she had been up there for years, looking out over the flat land towards the estuary. The sun backlit her, giving her an aetherial, unearthly quality.

It is an image that has stuck in my mind ever since; a young girl, her back resting gently against the trunk of a tree. It was the very image of carefree childhood.

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