Saturday’s car chase hunting postmen and the night’s fire dance was going to be a hard act to follow, so Sunday decided it would pursue a more leisurely pace. Stuart approves of leisurely and is trying valiantly to introduce me to the concept. So we worked all morning…which may conjure visions of frantic activity, but which, in truth, consisted mainly of talking in some depth over coffee. Then we wandered out to visit a stone circle a short drive away from both his home and the pub where we planned to eat.
The conversation had been about the books. Book Two… Heart of Albion… is complete and in the final stages of editing, Book Three has been lurking on the edges of vision, biding its time like an expectant puppy. So it should have come as no surprise when, finding ourselves stranded in a queue of traffic at the lights, I turned the wheel on impulse and headed instead down a side street.
Stu had mentioned a ruined Abbey… and I had come across one by accident… it avoided the traffic. We parked and wandered to look at the remains, partly restored and nestled on the edge of a golf course. The building was locked, but as it was a lovely morning it seemed like a good idea to wander off in search of an old sacred spring hidden somewhere in the woods.
Autumn is here and the damp air turned the moss emerald green, leaf-litter and damp wood giving that wonderful smell to the morning. It is moments like these when it is easy to see the innate sacredness of the world around us. It was alive and full of possibility. Then, entering another part of the wood, the place became magical… We could just feel it in the air…as if the wood was holding its breath… And we weren’t wrong.
Yes, the herd of deer was in a fenced area in the wood… but they were also rather unexpected in a city. At one end of the field an antlered stag watched his harem… at the other end a young stag, far less confident yet, isolated and separate. A solitary doe wandered with casual innocence towards the youngster, watched by the King… and the story of the Old and Young, winter and summer, the cycle of life itself was played out before our eyes as the Old One lifted his head and bellowed, charging across the field to put the Young One in his place.
Unlike the Fox the night before, the Old One is still in charge. We watched him run the young stag down and stand guard over his straying doe. We must have stood there for half an hour or more watching this primal drama playing out before our wondering eyes… It was a gift. Something so unexpected and unpredictable…. That was why we had made the sudden turn at the lights… to be there for that moment… to hear the Stag bellow, again and again, and feel one with his running.
We were lifted beyond the ordinary, just watching and feeling, like children marvelling at magic…which is, of course, what it was. A magical encounter, gifted at a moment in time that set the tone for the rest of the day and began our journey toward the Giants Dance… And there was more to come… a whole day of wonders… and a couple, miles away in the middle of the moors who nodded, said good morning and asked, “Have you seen any deer?”…..