Last Friday was the kind of day that makes winter a worthwhile season after all. The sky looked as though a fresh blue cotton sheet had been shaken out above the world and I couldn’t think of any excuse not to venture out. I packed a rather fetching bright pink rucksack (no pictorial evidence available) with a flask of strong black coffee, yet another of Molly’s blueberry muffins (I no longer know if the blue specks running through the sponge are mould or blueberries), popped on my walking boots and off I skipped to my picnic table.
Oooh it was chilly I can tell you! The table was covered in a layer of ice and the seat was sprinkled with frost which I realised was actually quite wet when I parked my bum on it. Oh, and someone had left two bags of dog poo there – I can only assume that this was a little welcome back gift for me.
Not surprisingly I only stuck around long enough to slurp my coffee and demolish the muffin in three bites but I did use the cold as a perfect opportunity to have a good old yomp through the park and take a few pictures.
Anyway, for those who don’t want to hear me waxing lyrical about the imposing beauty of the stark trees or the trampled down bracken that once swayed so proudly in the gentle October breeze, something happened on the way home that well and truly made my day.
I decided to walk home along the main road because the fields were far too boggy to cross. Immediately as you exit the park there is quite a steep hill that takes your breath away if you march up it at a brisk pace. At the bottom of the hill was a man in a wheelchair who stopped to let me past. Surely he’s not going to wheel himself up there, I thought to myself – perhaps I should offer to push him, will he be offended if I do, actually his wheelchair doesn’t have handles so I couldn’t even if he wanted me to, I’m not sure I’m fit enough to push him anyway….blah, blah, witter, witter……lots of things go round my head when I’m walking.
So I started my brisk climb up the hill, passing a couple of walkers with a cheery ‘Good morning!’ as I approached the top. Slowly my breath decided to join me once more as the path levelled out and I began the final couple of miles walk home.
It was at this point I heard a strange noise behind me. It sounded like some sort of vehicle but I couldn’t place what. It was like someone was pushing one of those prams from the seventies. Not the posh Silver Cross sort either – I was thinking something more like this:
Come on, every child of the seventies had one of these didn’t they?
The clattering got louder and I became more nervous. I quickly eliminated Dracula’s carriage from my possibility list due to my walking in Leicestershire, not nineteenth century Transylvania. I also discounted a bike, roller skates, skateboard and a runaway wheelie bin. Before I knew it though, the noise was snapping right at my heels and I could do nothing more but turn around and face my doom……….
………the man with the wheelchair from the bottom of the hill. The man I’d patronisingly thought might need my assistance. Grinning from ear to ear and not stopping for a beat, he whizzed past me and was gone as quickly as he’d appeared. He didn’t even hang around to hear me shout ‘how did you do that?’
I wanted to bump into him again and hoped that he’d stopped for a breather somewhere further along the path. I wanted to ask him how on earth he’d pushed himself up that hill, what drove him to achieve such a tricky feat, where did he find that kind of determination? I don’t mind telling you that I also felt a little ashamed that I’d written him off at the bottom of that hill.
Alas, I didn’t see him.
But the thought of him steaming up behind me made me smile for the rest of the day and put my blistered toes and aching leg woes into perspective. Without him knowing it, he’s instilled a little bit of extra determination in me that I really hope is going to last.