Ollie and I have been in Chester now since last Monday, and it’s Tuesday. That’s 9 days, that’s 9 days of feeling bored and captive in a small town with little to do. I’ve done lots of reading and writing, lots of sleeping and lots of feeling stir crazy. We have most likely lost our fitness and also precious time to make good miles. It’s a sad realisation, but one that was unavoidable as Ollie has been very sick. I’m trying to piece together some meaning out of it. Have I learnt patience? Maybe. Right now I feel frustrated, in time I hope this will pass.
Time melted into itself, and days fell into nights. We spent 4 nights in a motel hibernating against the storm which was erupting in Ollies body. Fever was replaced by uncontrollable chills, exhaustion kept him in bed without leaving, he ate very little and I passed the time by trying to help him out, and wandering the hot streets of this small town. We read much of Lolita, me deciphering the complex sentence structure and long words while also managing to put on voices of a sort and wrap my brain around the disgusting nature of the plot (I’ve caught the authors taste for very long sentences). We watched movies, all crappy, all filled with advertisements, mainly those selling insurance or medication, the two I assume go hand in hand. We left the motel and our friend Dan who owned it. We went back to the Church and have been here for 3 nights. We have met some new friends including Gypsy and Pelican (I have him his trail name).
Last night I took Ollie to a barn i came upon one day while out wandering. It’s big and beautiful and old. The large nails holding the even larger beams of square pine together are rusty. The wood is scarred and pock marked like that of someone who had acne as a teenager. No sanding was done, no windows put in, no electricity wired. It is vast inside and cool. The ceiling is as high as 4 storys. Old precarious ladders lead to nowhere and I wonder who was it that once climbed them. I conjure up images of the animals of this farm taking shelter inside the big womb during winter. Huddled together in their various species, their breath visible in the morning chill. Who, I wonder was lucky enough to call this their barn? Which children ran to and from it to their house, and down to the near by creek? Who rode their pony out the gate and into town? The smell of hay and hooves long gone but the spirits not. I spied an owl, fluffy and grey sitting silently above us on the highest beam. It’s huge yellow eyes gazed upon us. Outside, across the field the new world hummed by. Big cars, big people, plastic and programmed, while we escaped if only momentarily.
On the way home I swam in a creek, I sat on an old rusty pipe and watched the water flow past us. Like the days which form the constellation of our life the water keeps moving despite any logs or stones or debris in its way. 9 of my days have slipped by.
It is now the afternoon of July 4th, we watched an uninspiring parade trundle down the Main Street of Chester. The sun beat down on our shoulders, children scrambled for lollies thrown out of fire engines, local business floats, people’s pockets, vintage cars, racing cars, strange buggy like cars, and off horseback. Americans dressed in American colours and flags, being American, doing American things. America!
It’s hot, we need to leave before I bite someone’s head off. Oodles of new hikers have come in, I’m jealous of their dirty legs and toned bodies. I’m jealous of their stories of the last 9 days, I want to get back to trail and hike myself into the ground.