On Your Doorstep Issue 8 - Page 116

RICHARD GIBBS The paths up to and down from Pen-y-Fan, at 886 metres At the cairn at Bwlch Duwynt the easterly wind whips over the highest point of the Brecon Beacons, are busy. Snippets the ridge, and I become acutely aware of my carelessness of conversation whip past with the cold wind. Two young in having left my gloves in the car.... Too late now! The women pass me in opposition, chattering.... She didn’t used temperature must be around freezing, though the wind chill to be a cow..... says one. factor brings that down several degrees..... I thought I would start early and beat the crowds, but And in my anxiety Joni has slipped away.... breakfast at The Tanners Arms, Defynnog, couldn’t be hurried, and it is nine when I reach The Storey Arms Outdoor The path is snow and slush and it is a choice between wading Education Centre on the A470, and the car park is already through icy water or risking the slippery edge above the overflowing along the verges. Spry individuals, dog walkers, steep slope. Clouds shroud the tops and chill air numbs my hardy runners and groups of tough souls are gearing up and fingers, and hurts my lungs.... setting out. The summit drifts blearily into sight, the socialising crowds It’s a fair day at 400 metres above sea level, but the heights appearing and disappearing in the mist. Jon Snow’s talk of are cloud covered and snowy. I walk down to Pont ar Daf so many white people in one place takes on (yet) another and then take the track across the stream and aim for the meaning.... until I look a little closer. skies.... There are all sorts here, and it is highly social; people of all Rows and floes of angel hair ages, and from varied backgrounds and countries, unite in a And ice cream castles in the air sense of achievement, an enjoyment of being on top of the And feather canyons everywhere world, despite (or perhaps because of?) the lack of views. I’ve looked at clouds that way I am amazed at how many people have lifted themselves to But now they only block the sun this cold summit at this hour, and at the endless chains that They rain and snow on everyone are working their ways up (and at those who started earlier So many things I would have done and are already on their way home, some even running....) I But clouds got in my way am struck by the sense of community that transcends any small-minded preoccupations that may have been left at I walk with Joni Mitchell. Somehow we have teamed up. I home..... People talk to each other, help each other with their hold her 75-year-old hand and help her rise. In 2015 she photos, discuss paths and exchange experiences. suffered a brain aneurysm, and she needs support. As we labour up her words spin through my foggy mind, her voice, She didn’t used to be a cow, takes on a new value. I realise now husky but still clear, just audible. Also with me on the the women were not criticising their friend, but lamenting the track are three young deaf people, two girls and a boy, whose fact she had changed, still loving her..... enjoyments of being out and about dance before us, putting selfie-obsession in context. In these depressing times of division and stalemate, flecked with aggression and bigotry, it’s good to mingle with people who have a shared goal. There is a spirit of common humanity 116