When Blind Steve woke this morning (if anyone is reading this blog for the first time, I am allowed to call myself Blind Steve, because I’m not ashamed or proud, to be blind)) he threw back the curtains (as if . . .) with excitement, to see what the day had in store.
The grass was white with frost, but a pale sun was hovering in the east, and all the signs were that it would be a pleasant spring day. A brilliant day for an adventure, he thought, and he raced downstairs (as if . . .) and greeted his happy friend, Ruby, by rubbing muzzle and face, and having a bit of rough and tumble.
After a quick breakfast of jam sandwiches, Blind Steve and Mad Dog Ruby set out for the woods. The robins were singing, and Blind Steve had a spring in his stride and a tune in his head. For a moment, he fixed his eyes on the distant horizon, and then he fell over. But hey, the sun was warm and Ruby was licking his face so he would stay conscious, and he laughed, pushing her playfully away.rom the path above the lake
Their intention was to walk their normal walk through the dark, primeval forest. The wood, in actuality isn’t dark and primeval, nor is it that big, but when you can’t see, it can be what you want it to be.
The Terrible Two climbed the stony path and came to the little used path that skirted high above the lake. The path was known to Blind Steve and was avoided as too dangerous for a blind man. There were steep slopes down to the lake and down to the river.
It was at this point he was bewitched.
It is hard to say what it was that bewitched him. Maybe it was the robins singing deep in the wood, maybe it was the sunlight sparkling on the water and fizzing around in his darkness, maybe it was the old coppiced trees. Whatever it was, he decided to see where the path went.
It was the kind of day for an adventure, and Ruby was eager for anything that might involve rabbits or getting wet and dirty.
After a bit of a climb they came to a steep bank that plunged down to the river. The path had narrowed now, and was basically a fox run. Time to turn back. But the two of them decided to go down the bank.
Blind Steve has a technique for this sort of descent into the unknown. He sat on the heel of one boot and stuck his other leg out straight in front of him. It was his left leg, as a matter of trivial interest. The bent leg, on which boot heel he squatted acted as a sledge, and the outstretched leg cleared the way through brambles and stones and acted as a brake. The ultimate brake was to roll over and grab something, anything.
Eventually, they landed on a wide, flat ledge. They couldn’t get back up the bank. It was far too steep. But this ledge was enchanted. It was south facing, and was draped with moss and lichen. It was obviously where the fairies gathered, to sit on fallen logs and drink cheap cider.
They were only halfway down to the river, so they decided to carry on down. Not that they had a choice. The way back was impossible.
As they slid down the next bit, they came upon huge retaining walls of dry stone. No mortar, lots of undergrowth and moss, no obvious reason for its being there. There were holes in it that seemed to be the openings to the Underworld. Maybe this was where the fairies lived?
Mad Dog Ruby went in, tail wagging, all excitement and snuffling, but she got a bit stuck, and had to back out, defeated. She was lucky, really, because the Underworld doesn’t normally let you back out. Perhaps the spirits had been asleep, sleeping off their cheap cider?
Then they were down by the river, where it entered the lake. Here there were alders and birches and soft, muddy ground that would be flooded after rain. Ruby went for a swim, but found it very difficult to get out again. It was a metaphor for their adventure. It’s easy to jump into the river, or start following a path, but it’s difficult to get out again, or get back onto the path!
I suppose this is what is meant by being committed.
After a bit of messing around, Blind Steve considered his situation. He tried to get back the way he had come, but it was far too steep, even for crawling. He would need pitons, and, strangely, he hadn’t got any. At times like this, Mad Dog really irritated him, showing off with her four-wheel drive agility.
The only way up was to follow the river upstream a bit, then scale the massive drystone wall. It would not have been easy when he could see. But lack of vision wasn’t the problem. The real problem was the tiredness that comes from constant stumbling and falling.
It seemed a long climb, but eventually Ruby led him to a familiar path, steep but bormal, that took them to a bench by the ash tree.
He sat, tired but triumphant. For a short time he had been an explorer, a finder of strange lands, a child.
The moral of the story is not that it was foolish – which it probably was – but that (and here you must provide your own moral, because I really don’t have a clue . . .)