Once again we joined several thousand others in a hiking event which supports bilingual Breton schooling.
We generally avoid crowds so it is always a bit strange for us to be among so many people. It is similar to driving on the autoroute—somebody wants to pass, I can hear them breathing, is it OK to pass on the right, hey where is everybody, oh, they’ve stopped for lunch (including thermoses of coffee). On the whole though, there is a very good mentality at this event.
When looking at the circuits planned for this year, I hesitated between the 15-16km and the 20-22km, but reasonably reminded myself that I rarely walk long distances and it would not be a good idea to overestimate my strength. Upon arrival at the sign-up, there were signs to that effect—hot weather today, do not overestimate yourself. I think the 20-22km trail would have been much more in the open since it featured the landes. We walked the orange route—15.7 km.
We enjoyed wooded areas, sunken paths, rivers with large chaotic rocks, villages, fields. We could smell peat, hay, pine, a general sweetness at times, gorse, roses, …
On the up-slopes I said to myself we are doing our Ascension. I repeated to myself the phrase “le goût de l’effort”—a taste for effort, which is something we need to cultivate. We already have enough couch potatoes.
Body parts complained, however they had no choice but to get on with it.
There were plenty of occasions to practice love, forgiveness, freeing oneself from prejudice. Mostly on the inside.
At one point we passed three pale-skinned boys, aged 11-13 years I imagine, who called out “Hello”. My husband replied with hello. I was thinking here we are in France at an event organized by Breton speakers and they are addressing strangers in English, this must be a game of sorts like waving at cars from the overpass. So I said assalaamou ‘alaïkum. Silence. And then when about 2 meters had gone by, I heard a small high-pitched voice answer wa ‘alaïkum assalaam. Inwardly I rejoiced at this example of opening, awareness, of other cultures. It reinforced my hope for the world to change, for there to be more love between us all. Today I ask myself why didn’t I go back and talk to them?
There were mounds of moss rounding rocks, stately oak, chestnut, uphill, downhill, stony bits, boggy bits, smooth and carpeted with leaves—a preparation of sorts for upcoming Ramadan fasting.
We persevered and were rewarded with a snack, a drink and a souvenir. We treated ourselves to an authentic Breton buckwheat crêpe. The hardest part was the uphill trudge across an open field to get back to our car. When we got home, we saw 29.9°C on our thermometer which soon went up over 30°. Way too hot for me!
Most communities these days around here have at least one walking path marked out. These small local trails are indicated by yellow markings, either the small painted bands like the long trails which use red and white or with bright yellow arrows. I have enjoyed walking the one set up by our town several times.
Not long ago when I was at the mairie, I saw a flyer with a map and picked it up as I particularly like maps. It was the lay-out of one of these trails in the next town over. 14 km, 3 hours and we could pick it up by crossing a valley which would maybe add 500m.
Yesterday was the day to try it out as we were both home and it wasn’t pouring rain and Ramadan has not yet begun. I try to avoid physical effort in the sun when fasting. No need to make it harder than necessary.
We saw some ruins off to the side which turned out to be a fountain. In the surrounding vegetation I saw some wild blueberries (huckleberries) and we each had about 2 teaspoonfuls. Usually some other animal gets to them first.
And then I ate it.
The July countryside is beautiful. After rain, we have had some sun so all is lush, hay has been cut, those fields are greening, flowers are blooming…
My husband sighted this creature after noticing something different about the shadows of the blades of grass showing on the dirt road.
We went up and down the rolling hills characteristic of this area, finding some wet places.
In some areas, a lot of trouble has been gone to enabling a comfortable walk. We felt like we had discovered a treasure in our backyard. All was peaceful, far from the violence and exploitation so prevalent in society today. A way is there, waiting for us. Our Creator gently reminds us over and over if we want to be happy, then we should practice love, peacemaking, forgiveness, free ourselves from all prejudice and develop our spiritual intelligence. It will take the efforts of many to make the necessary changes in the world, to rebuild the garden of Eden, but it begins in the steps we each take in this direction.