Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Saint Andrew, the Pilgrim


November 30th, St. Andrew's Day
I woke up this morning thinking about journeys and travel – not just because of some travel writing I'm working on, or even because I enjoy travelling so much, but also because of how much better I feel, in general, and how much more easily my thoughts seem to flow , when I'm in movement.
Fired with enthusiasm, I thought how journal and journey have the same root, and the image in my mind was of someone on a journey, and the scallop shell symbol of the pilgrim.
I determined that I would make an early start and would have a successful journey today, unlike yesterday, when I dug a path through the snow to my garden gate, and walked the half mile or so to the bus stop. I stood there for some time, chatting to a neighbour, but there were clearly no buses running, although the road was passable, demonstrated by a few slow-moving cars. Because of the persistent snow and the fact that it would soon be dark, my neighbour and I walked back.
But today I felt sure of success. I started early – after checking the website of the bus company, to be told no buses were running. I'd barely arrived at the bus stop when a neighbour stopped and gave me a lift to the local supermarket, waited while I did my shopping, and drove me back home. The snow-covered trees, fields and hills were breathtaking – and though my journey was not strictly necessary, [as the BBC exhorted us not to go out unless this was the case] I was running very short on bird seed and nuts. Back home, sparrows, chaffinches, blackbirds and a robin darted around the bird table , while blue tits and coal tits pecked at the nuts. I only remembered while we were driving slowly along the snowy road that it was St. Andrew's Day, but according to Kenneth Roy's article in the Scottish Review [which made me laugh out loud] Andrew was a travellin' man. Maybe it was his image I saw in my mind this morning, cape over his shoulder, held by a clasp in the shape of a scallop shell.

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