Carpeted in Autumn’s disarray, the steps wind up in front of me. Although steeped in soggy foliage, I know every curve and groove of them. I’ve been climbing them for thirty years.
Out of the green depths forest, the river rushes past disturbing the silence of empty trees. Her girth has swollen after a downpour so she busies by with vigour. A mossy branch dips beneath the surface, immersed in the swell, leaflessly bobbing up and down as it’s tugged by the flow. It’s the season for the woodland ceiling to spill its contents earthwards.
The ground mulches underneath as I move towards the first step. This one has a dip in it, I’m careful not to stand in its centre. Up two, three, skip the fourth (it’s wearing a slippery mass of leaves that threaten even the best of rubber soles), take the fifth with its slanted face, the sixth with its chipped edge and on I go. I’m halfway there, the top is visible.
Flanked by two burly hazelnut trees, it’s always been a favourite spot of mine. This is where I gathered nuts many moons ago, mounted on my father’s shoulders, delighted that I could reach the low hanging branches. My pudgy hands picked the velvety spheres to take home and ripen. And here I stand once again, harvesting them in my mind.
These steps bring me to places more special than the places themselves.