Like a bee collecting honey, this summer I’ll be collecting stories again.
Malcolm Green invited me to Northumbria, to something called Dreaming the Land, where a group of walkers would walk to Hill forts, Bronze Age and Iron age settlements and get nearer to the land up there. I was dreading it a bit. Imagining a group of hearty wind-blown archaeologists who would be off on the far horizon before I had got my boots properly laced up.
We met up in a field beside Holy Island. Nigel, Chris and James had set up a couple of bell tents and were in full swing making tea and preparing our first meal. As they did that, people put up their tents and I looked for a place for the hammock. There were no trees here on the wind-swept open land, just some scrubby hawthorn hedges. I crossed an electric fence to investigate a telegraph pole and got a shock on my thigh. It gave me a little leap in the air but happily no-one noticed. Nowhere to hang the hammock already on the first night? Then I found this spot with two bolts on the old barn.
Drinking tea and eating Nigel’s home-made flapjacks we introduced ourselves. The party was varied, including an archeologist, (more were to join), a geologist, quite a few storytellers, a furniture maker, a radio journalist, a permaculturalist, a musician and a dry stone waller.
When Nigel provided me with a small step ladder to climb into the hammock I realised the extent of luxury on this trip. Chris said that alternatively several of the men would be happy to make a human pyramid so that I could step on their backs.
Next morning those who wanted could meet at 6.30 for a meditation. I had a great sleep, and waking early I peeped over the edge of the hammock. Two large hares were facing eachother in the field beside me. They seemed to be boxing or dancing. Then suddenly they stopped and turned, facing the newly risen sun. They stood as still as stone. For a long time.
A great wave of gratitude flooded over me.