Saturday, May 26, 2007

Uffington White Horse

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Under Bright blue skies where the red kite flies
On the round green hill, rides the white horse still.

The field was dotted with black sheep, too busy heaving their heavy wool-laden bodies after their skipping offspring to bother with us. The hillside was a sea of lovely yellow buttercups amongst the green. Below and all around, a patchwork of coloured fields green, brown and yellow spread out before us. Above, the white horse, a fluid chalk line amongst the grass, rode on.

It was one hell of a climb. We puffed and pushed our way up, pausing frequently to brush sweat from our eyes, rest our sore knees and to gasp ragged lungfuls of clear sweet air. The high blue sky was flecked with the wispiest of clouds. Into its empty brilliance, the distinctive silhouette of a red kite flew.

Crawling on hands and knees onto a bank above the rump of the horse, I sat down to rest. It felt as though we were on the very top of the world. The sense of space, the way the earth fell away beneath me bought me a moment of vertigo. Lest I fall off, I lay down, belly to the ground and breathed.

The drum throbbed with a steady beat. Behind my eyelids, the bear lumbered off and I followed. Where we went and what we did, I have no idea. All I could do was follow the drum beat.

Then I was on the top of a high hill. The space all around was inviting. Tentatively at first and then with more confidence, I broke into a trot, then a canter and then a gallop. Before I knew it, I was flying across the hills so fast that I thought I might fall off. Remembering all of a sudden that I was not a horse, I stopped and sat down on the grass.

Above my head a large bird swooped. In the distance, lambs bleated. I sat up and began to sing, - correctly this time,

“Epona ride with me,
Epona let me ride with thee,
Epona we shall all be free!”

The drum beat faster, like a great horse galloping across turf. Our voices echoed back to us across the hills. All hail, the great white horse riding still the land, I thought as I fell into silence once more.


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