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Yesterday I …

July 29, 2013

Yesterday’s walk at sunrise was quite different from previous weeks; especially as there was no sun.  It was strange that I chose to take a different route; almost immediately I was disappointed.  The walk began as normal in the streets that surround my house.  If I walk south I arrive at the campus in minutes; a wonderful enclave of nature; while it is manmade,  owned by the university it is not so densely populated.  The surrounding area of green have been managed over the years and now it is a very attractive ‘natural’, place  teaming with wildlife and because it is private property it is often free of the humankind more so when it is vacation time.  

However, walking northward I will meet the Kennet and Thames,  again a place of natural beauty and even managed but not in the same way, more for public health and safety.  Sadly, the route is less desirable even at six in the morning.  There is more human action namely Domino Pizza employees changing shift; left me wondering ‘Who would want a pizza a six in the morning?’

So this made me sad; as I would prefer have more edifying thoughts.  

After a night of heavy rain the streets sparkled and the Reading brickwork glowed even though the rain clouds still hung low.  There was a chill in the air I was pleased I had taken the time to put proper clothes on.  

Getting over my initial grumpiness, I strolled through Palmer Park.  Those not familiar with Reading will not know know about the Huntley and Palmer Biscuit Factory and the Quaker family who bestowed gifts upon local community during the 19th and early 20th century. Palmer Park was one of those delights that still provides a beautiful open space for me and the others walking running and merely waiting for the sun to peep through the clouds.  While my thoughts straggle between litter, pizza and greedy pigeons;  I hold my camera close and hurry on.

When I reach the Kennet, the sun has broken through and am surprised that already I have spoken albeit one or two words and about to have a full blown conversation. (thank goodness I was suitably dressed); Quite different to previous weeks when I rarely see a soul. Coming towards me a nice clean cut young man asked me ‘ If I knew where he could buy a single cigarette?’ He added politely (there is nothing like being accosted by a polite young man) ‘that it might seem an old fashioned idea; but he was gasping’ ..

Old Fashioned mmmm? I remember my dad at dawn, hunting around for some baccy to make a roll up; using dried up shreds from dogends he kept for such occasions. I wasn’t able to help; he hurried off. Later I turned back, gasping for a cup of tea; and wondering what I would do to get one? Not rape and pillage; but pretty close! I met my ‘friend’ coming back clutching to his chest a treasure as only a rollup man would (my dad) He smiled and showed me, in a tin enough tobacco enough to make a tiny roll up and a packet of green papers; saying, and still smiling ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ he went on his way. Leaving me wondering ‘Where on earth did he get that?’

So maybe this walk was not quite so close to nature; maybe there wasn’t every species of tree known to man … ok a selection of. Perhaps there were no carefully maintained lawns and meadows and oh so marvelous architecture.  There were no bejewelled herbaceous borders or sculpted lake with every wild fowl bar the duck billed platypus. There was plenty of human nature, kindness, pigeons, ducks and swans doing what they need down where the Thames meets the Kennet. As the trains to Paddington trundle over the top every twenty minutes or so and the Gas Works … ‘work’  with a monotonous drone that one begins not to notice.  

So while I started the walk with doubts and gloom; I soon found that I enjoyed a very different experience.  Walking on the campus is wonderful but  it is passive; peaceful perhaps, neither party having to make an effort, it all happens like a well oiled machine.  Walking to, along and back from the Thames demanded action, there was a powerful exchange; everyone and thing plying for attention if we didn’t make the effort a nod, a smile, a question or two,  the rumble of the trains, even as the rivers met there was a turbulence.  

Well I could go on making profound comparisons …

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