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Monday, February 20, 2012

Hitching or Hiking ?

    Her holiday had not been what she had expected it to be. But today she would start on a special field trip. One that had come up unexpectedly. She had immediately warmed to the idea, thinking that this might compensate for all the disappointments she had run into during her stay.
    The trip was very plain. A challenging hike, a walk that would take a couple of days, to an Alpine meadow. It was said to be very beautiful this time of year, full of exotic flowers and the wildlife bringing out their youngsters from their nests and hideouts.
   She'd have to do the largest part of the journey on her own. The other members of the travel group had declined this exercise, preferring to visit some more cities, where there would be the entertainment of musea, markets and concerts. And modern comfort.
    The goal was worth it. Besides she was used to doing things on her own, so she didn't change her plans on account of that.

   The sun did her best some of the days, giving her a good view over the mountains. Other days the rain made the spring gurgle more and more, being a talkative companion during her walk.
    The climb gradually grew more difficult, the road narrower, rockier and the sun really started to burn. The beautiful view became less entertaining. Breathtaking was a description now reserved for the steeper parts of her walk. If the goal of her trip hadn't been so alluring, she might even have turned back.
    Suddenly she heard a familiar sound coming up from behind. It was Herr G. a local landowner and farmer. One with quite a lot of land scattered around here. And consequently a lot to dictate in the area. But the local folk didn't mind so much power in the hand of just one person. This person. For the man was good natured and friendly. Always helping where he could and donating to those who needed support.
    Herr G. was in his buggy like carriage drawn by two horses, speeding along a lot easier than she ever could on foot. Wasn't Herr G.'s summer chalet in the midst of the meadows ? He could take her along, there was enough room in his carriage. It would save her a day. She held up her hand to stop the carriage.
   “Are you going up to the meadow?” Herr G. asked her as he slowed down his horses. She nodded.
“Well you're on the right rack”, the man told her reassuringly. “If you step lively, you'll be there tomorrow afternoon.” He urged his horses on with the reins. Leaving the woman behind, her eyes large with surprise. 

    Herr G. had been right, the next afternoon, she reached the pasture. The sun had done her work well that day and bathed the mountainside in her light and warmth for hours already. The flowers opened their buds for the first time of their short lives. The four footed mothers poked their noses out to see if the pasture would be safe enough for their babies. Having noticed all this with great satisfaction the hiker sat down to rest. She hadn't just been stepping lively, she had stumbled, slipped and even taken a few fearsome slides. But she had made it. She complimented herself on that. She sat down on a large boulder, closed her eyes just to feel the sun and smell the flowers and herbs of the pasture. She concentrated on the sounds surrounding her. Could she hear the rustling of the marmots in the undergrowth, or the bleating of some young chamois or mountain goats ? She heard something alright. She frowned, eyes still closed. What could it be? It .. sounded.. like .... footsteps. Human footsteps. A shadow fell over her. She opened her eyes, meeting those of a big strong man, radiantly smiling down on her. Herr G., without the slightest trace of a bad conscience in his eyes, face or demeanor. “So you made it,” he cheered, handing her a cool drink. Then he sat down next to her, the boulder was large enough. After a few gulps she turned her head to face this powerful man who had left her struggling at the roadside. “You could have given me a ride, you know. It would have saved me a terrible struggle and several sore spots.”
He nodded. “Yes, but then you would have arrived too soon. While the pasture was still barren and gloomy. And you would have been disappointed again.”


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