I get throughly sogg-droggled walking back along the cliff path. Drops of rain are heavier beneath the canopy of trees but before I reach said canopy the rain is soft and warm on my face and I don’t mind getting wet at all. Ahead of me is a peahen. She notices me and keeps looking back. I am closing the distance between us. I can’t say it feels normal to go walking with a peahen in the rain on a path that runs from a lighthouse to the village, especially as this is not peahen country.
When I first arrived for my 2 day respite break with a friend, I met the peahen in the little garden, all freshly mown and protected by ancient stone walls that have probably kept the sea back since the lighthouse cottages were first built. There is no car access here, only a skinny clifftop path hewn into the rock face, one that rises into a sky that was blue yesterday and punctuated by soaring white tailed eagles. Today the sky is closed, yellowy clouds pulled across her face, not an eagle in sight. Only a peahen at ground level. But my friend does not own a peahen. This now bedraggled creature with a pretty face and a tantalising fascinator perched atop her head, just appeared one day. We feed her cooked chickpeas and boiled potatoes, although she would choose snakes and bugs over our offering any day. We tell her to find her own. Some day she will be captured, bagged and returned to whence she came, but, for now, she prettifies the place and is absolutely silent, unlike a peacock who would split the air with piercing cries and wake us all at dawn.
As I walk back through the rain, I think over the past two days filled with laughter and chat and a bit too much wine. It shined on us, the sun, and we sat on a driftwood bench in the warm garden talking over pretty much everything, including peahens. I also think, as I near the end of the 2k path, having met not one soul, of homecoming. I always need to come home again, wherever I escape to and for however long. Like the peahen I am out of my environment and that ‘outing’ revives me and alters my thinking. 2 days ago I was exhausted and diminished. Now I am feeling stronger and those things that burst me into tears just smile me. They will pass, after all, as everything always does. I will deal with the things I can and ignore the things I cannot and, although that balance is hardly Libran, I can choose to stand on the high side until the scales are level once more.
One day this peahen will be returned to the farm whence she came. What her story is, her reason for leaving is only a guess. She seemed happy there and this place is a long walk away. I think of those who must have met her on her journey and been surprised, astonished, even. It’s a wild place, this, all rock and ocean and skinny unpeopled paths. But she is here. For now. I look back and see her pick her delicate way down to the shore. And then, I turn, and head for home.