Day Nine: Tussock jumping

Lucy Weir
4 min readJul 3, 2022

It’s a dangerous bend. She has to wait, and listen, at the wrought iron gates. The sentry box was white, but is flaking now, sagging to one side on the wet grass. Opposite, The Gate Cottage, fenced, where a Chinese goose patrols the garden while the owners, Paul and Sheila, are out at work. Sheila cleans and does the laundry. Paul maintains the grounds, does any odd jobs that are going. Bruce the Goose stands guard now, watching her. She glances around, still listening. There’s no sign of traffic but she’s been caught before, a sudden, careening vehicle appearing out of nowhere over the brow of the hill, bearing down on her like doom as she’s darted over with the dogs. Now, heartbeat loud in her chest, she waits another moment and launches herself across. The dogs that have been sitting watching her bound across and over the wooden railings while she loops between the slats and follows them up the long sloping path between bracken and birch at a determined lope.

The dogs range and return as she huffs up the increasing slope, a tumble of rocks in the gully to her right, the burn running beside her in dark pools and rapids. Underfoot, the grass is wet and short, bright red mushrooms at the base of trees. She pushes herself on up, short strides, tight-chested, looking at the path wending through the rocks and trees and ever steepening, winding until the slope shallows for a moment and the landscape changes, the trees thinning to shrubs, the heather thickening to bush height, and beyond, the mountain showing its dark shoulder. The naked quartz of a cliff face and she rounds onto a ridge and is out on the wide moor of heath and heather, rock and tussocks of grass. She watches her feet as they find the clumps and wonders at how this happens, how the brain and eyes manage this swift trick, turning her into an animal, able to pace itself over the rough ground as easily and gracefully as a deer, though her breath roars between her ribs, her legs ache, and drops of sweat stand out on her forehead and neck.

At last she comes to the monument, a granite cross enclosed in its rusted pen of pointed tines, a small gate that creaks in the persistent wind as she opens it gently and lets herself into the enclosure. She’s read the dedication a hundred times, a woman she didn’t know but who had lived, once, in the house, her house, that she can just make out on its mound between the tall firs far beneath her. Her father’s last indulgence, a place that represented the best compromise he could create between the grandeur of his parents’…

Lucy Weir

What if words shape ideas and actions? The ecological emergency is us! Connection matters. Yoga, philosophy, www.knowyogaireland.com. Top writer, Climate Change

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