Friends Reunited

I’ve just returned from a week of walking in a very different part of England (different, that is, when compared with the canals and gentle hills of Hertfordshire). The North Yorkshire Moors have been part of my life from early childhood but it has been many years since I last visited. Retracing old, familiar footpaths, every view was like meeting a well-loved friend who you haven’t seen for ages; the sort of friend you once loved very much but then, due to absence, “filed away” in your memory. When you rediscover a friend like that, you feel afresh the joy of connection and the suppressed ache of having missed them. You’ve seen photos but it’s nothing like seeing them in the flesh. Character faults and irritations become invisible (at least for a while), your eyes rest on their almost-forgotten features, your ears appreciate the music of their voice and your heart is filled with gladness. That is how it felt for me as I walked on carpets of heather and through jungly ferns. From time to time I would sit and rest, just feasting on the experience of being back: surrounded by darting swallows, bees and butterflies, the air heavy with the scent of honey and the wind stirring the golden grass.

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