This is the spot where Tilly and I often go for a mid-morning coffee break, for it's the perfect place to linger for a stolen moment in a busy work day. Sitting in the old oak's shade, bare feet cooled by gold water in a pebble-bottomed stream, I read or write while Tilly prowls, or splashes, or sits contentedly beside me.
It's also a spot favored by animals that live or graze on Nattadon Hill; we find deer and fox prints in the soil (and sometimes badger too), and once encountered a large hare, who blinked at us and then strolled leisurely away.
Most often it's the wild ponies who join us, traveling down from the moor to drink and bathe and cool themselves among the leaves...
...or cows from the lower field, much more standoffish since their calves were born.
Our foot and paw prints mix with theirs, just two more animals on the hill, drawn to cold water like all the rest....
And just as food tastes best when eaten outdoors, and coffee transforms into the nectar of the gods, a good book read in an oak tree's shade becomes somehow even better -- as though the oak reads over my shoulder, murmuring its approval and pleasure. I lose myself, bees humming around me, the church bells ringing faintly in the distance and sheep calling from the distant hills...
...but when my cup is empty, I close the book, slip on my shoes, and say, "Come, love. Let's go home."
Tilly leads the way down the streamside path that winds back to studio, her nose twitching as she reads the latest scent-news carried by the wind.
And I bring it all back to my desk: the wind, the water, the woods, and the wild. Words like fox prints tracked across the page. Dark coffee, bright sun; the bitter and the sweet; the rustle of the ponies and the hare's bold gaze. The simple things that keep us going.
That I'm grateful for.
That aren't simple at all.