I did something very foolish this past month. It’s a foolish thing to do no matter where you live, but it is especially foolish if you live in Britain: I let the weather get to me.
|Not so bad, after all.|
The walk was not as pleasant as it would have been on a summer afternoon, but it was certainly invigorating; there is something about walking in inclement weather that makes you feel energized, and just a bit smug. And the weather turned out to be not all that bad. It rained off and on, and was windy, but much of the pathways were sheltered by trees so, occasionally, the climate managed to skate up to the border of “pleasant.”
|Good thing I wore my wellies.|
|One of the hazards of hiking in Sussex, though it does keep the walk interesting.|
It was also a treat to find myself—in one of the most crowded locations in Europe—quite suddenly and totally alone. New York state has a population density of 413 people per sq. mile (for the continental US, it is 89), whereas West Sussex boasts 1,101 per sq. mile, yet soon after I left the edge of town, I entered a seemingly uninhabited wilderness.
|That brown smudge near the end of the road is a deer.|
There is also something satisfying about arriving at a destination under your own power. That first sip of beer is nowhere near as refreshing (or welcome) if you have arrived at the pub after a five-minute drive compared to, say, a two-hour walk. And it is exponentially satisfying when that pub has been around for a few hundred years, and realizing that the fireplace, the beams, the walls (well, some of them, anyway) were there to be enjoyed, leaned on and/or pissed against when Shakespeare was a boy. It makes me feel—interloper though I am—part of a continuum, as if I am a participant in something bigger than myself.
|Abandoned nest of the Sussex Stealth Spider–we grow \’em big here, bucko!|
And if I can enjoy all of this while smoking a fine cigar and sipping a pint of authentic ale sheltered under a canopy that affords a view of a picturesque country pub garden and the opportunity to watch rain falling on something other than myself, then life is very good, indeed.