August 25th, 2013
I feel as if a new colour has been made. With her earthy autumnal reds and my mossy greens, mixed with the liquid light of this Dartmoor summer, cooked for some days over a wood stove and dusted with Perseids, we now clutch in the creased life tracks of our palms a translucent backlit umber – much like the colour of the bracing peaty river in which we bathed before parting ways.
The greatest miracle of this journey began more than two weeks ago. It was the longest, deepest and widest path I have trodden, and yet few footsteps were taken. It has shaped my paths since, and will ring throughout my lifetime. The pattering footsteps of two people meant to meet, yet dancing through and past each other, have echoed for many many years in an empty chamber in our hearts, waiting for the day when we could sit in it together and drink a never ending cup of tea.
Artist Rima Staines and I share a part of our paths that was full of extremes. We were once, in different chapters if our lives, with the same man. That is now an old story for both of us. My relationship with him was full of a darkness and a light that was never allowed to be reconciled. For those of us who feel intensely the tides and trembles of existence, it is a rare joy to meet another who knows it. And, in the alchemy of Rima and I meeting, a new and different colour was made. Like a dark rain cloud meeting the sun, a rainbow emerges from the union.
She invited me for tea as The Wayfarer. Upon reading my blog more closely, pennies started dropping from the ceiling and threads stitched themselves through the patches lying around the room. She realised who I was. A woman from her past, not yet met. She invited me for tea again, as me. The teapot is still not empty, and the tea is not cold. We have only just begun.
I camped in the overflow of an arboretum along the track from her cottage. First one night, then two, then three. We walked. We talked more. We danced. And we laughed. My, how we laughed! By the time I left, the grass under my tent had started to yellow.
I ventured out onto the moor for more adventures and experienced the warm Devon welcomings. But Rima and her lovely man were going to a festival I know to tell a Lithuanian folk tale, and sell Rima’s just-beyond-this-worldly paintings. They wanted the story recording and there happened to be a Sarah shaped hole in the back of their van. So what was I to do?
Pin myself between Arctic bell tents, boxes full of Rima’s wonderful paintings, accordions, and LOTS of food of course! All of a sudden, we shared Hampshire mists and cider and fireside song and workshops on making paper from mushrooms. Another county, yes, but more precisely, another world. One where I would wake to find a stag mask hanging in the trees next to my lantern.
Brewed Umber. A shadow that has been processed and warmed to form a golden unstoppable flow. That is the colour we have made. That is the colour of our friendship. And that is what she carved and painted into my walking stick. Me, the wayfarer, carrying my burden, supported infinitely by a walking stick inside a walking stick, tracing a blood-earthline through a double treed forest into our friendship. The path to the other half of the story is this way.
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Sarah Thomas is Penguin's Wayfarer and she'll be walking and writing for us all summer. Follow her journey here!