Did It Rain? Pearly Gates, Arthur and the Tilt
A friend from up Yorkshire way asks if it's wet here in Wales. Uh
Like today. It rains, the sun peeps through for 30 seconds, then it rains twice as hard. All my friends in their little wool jackets that are nuts enough to be out on horses in this monsoon-like weather are like drowning by now and that's just the start. Then the wind picks up. I mean really picks up. Like I swore it was gonna pick up the Land Rover I was stood next to. How many thousand pounds does one of them weigh? It was rocking pretty steady and there wasn't a soul in it. Go figure.
A Proper Welsh Rainbow
Anyway, those of us with hardy hearts got out in the elements today and found the highest hills we could to stand on and gaze off into the distance. Some people are nuts, no? I was riding with my friend Arthur, 81, a farmer and stronger than most men only 3/4 his age. There's no B.S. about Arthur and I like that. Straight shooter he is. So he decides he wants to get around this gorse patch the quickest way rather than the prudent way. He goes for it, a narrow patch of sodden (and I mean water standing on it) grass on a 45 or worse degree angle to the fence we're following on a steep incline, and then below that it drops off into this deep pool of water (NOT a puddle). So we start up there and I'm feeling a bit doubtful about this, but keeping my mouth shut. Finally I squeak, "Have you been this way before," and Arthur slowly says, "Noooooo..." just as we begin to slide off the grass down the slope toward this pool. I'm thinking "not good..." and somehow Arthur stops and I've got a prayer under my breath and I'm feeling like we're dangling from some spider-thick strand and one tiny motion will send us reeling top over bottom into the pool and I'm thinking I can't swim and my cameras!!! They'll be ruined! And all those kinds of things you find yourself thinking when you're in a situation you know you should've avoided but didn't...
So we stop there, on the verge of sure destruction. It's all quiet like we've already gone to heaven and I'm looking for friends and loved ones at those pearly gates. And maybe Bill Monroe and his big Heavenly Perpetual Bluegrass Jam Session with Benny Martin and John Hartford and Jimmy Martin and Roy Huskey Jr. and Jimmy Campbell and Jimmy Arnold and Clarence White and a whole bunch of them fellers. And then I come back to reality as Arthur says, "MaryE, you'd better get on out of here...now." And I'm thinking, "Who, me? Do I look like someone who wants to open this door and jump out and maybe bring this toppling over on top of me?" But for once I do as I'm told and I quietly get out and after I've closed the door I'm thinking "Uh-oh, I only brought one of my cameras with me! What if the other drowns?" but I scurry on up the hill out of harm's way and look back at poor Arthur sitting calmly in the truck.
As I get up this hill I see Will and Steve and Dave and Paul and Colin (who have wisely come to this point the long and easy way) and they're all there with various trucks and Land Rovers and already ganged up together as men tend to do deciding how best to deal with this tricky situation, you know scratching their heads and stroking their chins and stuff and saying, "Well, we'd better...". Will jumps in his Land Rover and begins backing down toward Arthur. He can't go all the way, mind, or he'll be in the same situation. He goes part way and stops, also at an impossible angle on a steep grade on sodden grass. A well-frayed tow rope appears and is hooked to Arthur's Land Rover which, thankfully, has decided to stay put for the moment. I notice Will's tires are barely legal and he has this steep wet grass and a couple of tumps to climb over pulling all that weight and I think, "Uh-oh." Try and try again, Will can't do anything but perhaps leave Arthur in an even more precarious situation. Next Dave hops in his Toyota and reverses down to the brink and hitches up the tow rope and two or three guys jump in the back of Dave's truck and start jumping up and down over the rear wheels for all they're worth and Dave's truck moans and spins and huffs and the guys jump harder and higher and Arthur gives his Land Rover some petrol and it inches forward and finally slides up over the big tump and sails on to a reasonable slope.
Poor Arthur. I climb in to the passenger seat with all the guys saying "No wonder he got stuck...look at all the weight on the passenger side" and all like that and we head on up the hill and out of that boggy ground. It's getting dark by now and we see the hounds and huntsman on the road ahead heading for the box in the last frail light of the gloomy afternoon and it's drizzling (again). Ian and Robert are on their quad bike bringing up the rear. We join the procession.
I quietly ask Arthur if his heart rate has returned to normal and he just grins and shakes his head and says, "Oh I don't get too bothered about getting stuck anymore," and I think how nice it must be to be 81 and laid back like Arthur. Here's to Arthur!
We had a good day out on all those hills and rose above wind and wet weather to enjoy the camaraderie of good country people out doing what they love to do. Better than stopping at the house in front of the soaps with a bag of crisps.