I break away from all things, all people and, after a few steps of dragging responsibilities, I start to look ahead. Looking around will come later, I hope. The ground’s unsteady, so I concentrate on the tree roots and rocks, vaguely aware of the blinks of sunlight catching my head through the pine trees. I climb up, then down the stone stile, watching my hand holding onto the fence, avoiding the barbed bits. The steep field is empty of cattle now, but full of the hazards they’ve left behind. With every step, I’m waiting to lose my balance, and wonder, would I just fall flat, or would I tumble. My legs shake under the pressure, but I never fall. The grass is dry, and clumpy. When the hill gets more gentle, I let myself look ahead to the gate. When I reach it, I am distracted by the stiffness of the rope fastener. Then it’s open, and there’s only one more challenge to go: the steps. Of course, there is no banister, only some unreliable blades of grass and montbretia.
I’ve made it. I’m steady on the sandy shore, and, at last, I look.
Here is where my roots are. Here I feel connected, grounded, but also lifted. It is a still evening on the estuary. Ards forest stands silent and noble, keeping an endless vigil over the changing waters and dunes beneath it. I can never get enough of this scene, and never know where to begin, and where to end. This time, and probably every time I look, I stop at the kaleidoscope sea.
Then, I close my eyes. and realise that there is something, Someone, deeper, more beautiful, more peaceful than anything I see. And, in this moment, that feels like just a footstep away.