Romance has many angles; a natural affinity for the members of the opposite sex, an affection for the lovely nature or an obsession for sports, travelling, reading etc, though the individual inclination may not necessarily be in the same order. The likings also vary with age, circumstances and a hoard of other dictating factors but the one I am destined to talk about now is my romance with nature while on the walking trails of Cheadle, a scenic suburb of Manchester.
Big cities always fascinate me for obvious reasons but the cities that also maintain the flavour of countryside in their surroundings attract me more. Here one can have the best of both worlds; a vibrant city life and the serenity of the countryside. Manchester, one of the wettest cities of the UK, is well known in the sporting world as the home of the famous Manchester United football club and is an ideal base for exploring north of England with its stunning countryside of the Lake and Peak Districts. Cheadle is one such place in greater Manchester where one can enjoy these diversities of life.
I have an obsession for walking and an unending love for nature and these two traits combined together make me undertake regular long walks whenever I am vacationing in Europe. Being a self-talker I enjoy solitude, especially when I am out in the wilderness. ‘One who walks the road with love, will never walk the road alone’, goes the saying. My morning walks stretching to about six kilometers on the average give me a God given opportunity for self-seeking. Besides, having browsed through the history of the area, I imagine myself treading the centuries old settlement of Cheadle, covering an area of three miles by six miles, when it was first inhabited by under a dozen families in the late 11th century. Leaving my house in the rare mellow sunshine of an autumn morning I immediately follow a trail through the nearby woods and the first enchanting scene that I come across is the duck pond surrounded by maple trees with bare boughs and a carpet of strewn leaves. Bone structures of the landscape are visible in their full glory. I walk further deep and my thoughts take me back to the times when this once wooded and open land would have had its first corn grinding mill in the early 14th century and I can still hear its whistling sound resounding in my ears. I can also visualize the children going to the village school when it was first set up in the area in 1606 or the coal miners going to work, weaving their way through the trails in the vernal waves of golden, autumn grass in around the same time wrap. I am travelling simultaneously on two roads; one in the present and the other one in the past. A distant path to be precise.
"Two roads diverged in a wood and I…
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."
An early morning walk is a hpw blessing for the whole day and browsing new trails is something I find very inspirational. Vacations are not just about getting away, but about getting in touch. He who travels and leaves his heart at home, does not travel. I like to walk on untrodden grounds and explore the area. I get well familiarized with the surroundings and in the process discover and enjoy areas of outstanding beauty and scenic regions with their invaluable offerings for the walkers. Walking stretches your mind and soul and creates a sense of rhythm. It energizes our body and replenishes it with the much needed oxygen. It is a great source of mental relaxation in today’s fast and irritating world and revs up our blood circulation, giving us the much needed energy to get through the day. I love walking and love is a journey that has no end.
Walking through these trails and observing the woodland is an interesting study. The maple trees, as well as other species, with their flaming golden brown foliage suddenly start shedding their leaves and autumn starts painting its spectacular mosaic of fall colours. I remember appreciating the golden autumn leaves of the huge maple tree visible through my bed room window when I first arrived in Cheadle,Chesire about a fortnight ago and it did not take too long for it to shed its leaves. What a scene it was with its glorious bare boughs in the back drop of a cluster of trees! I recalled seeing the apricot trees in full bloom when I was in the boarding school at Abbottabad. It was an eye, and soul, catching view from my dormitory window and I always waited and looked forward to the spring in that mountainous region. Nature is so beautiful everywhere. The duck pond at the near end of my walking trail is a lovely place with ducks dotting its pearly waters. Occasionally I find an old angler with his fishing line, sitting on a huge stone on the edge of the duck pond. I wonder if he ever succeeded in hooking one but I am sure he enjoyed the surroundings as much as I did, perhaps even more. Sitting there for hours he was certainly enjoying the nature more than anyone else. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. The squirrels in the area were healthier than the ones back home in Pakistan and their skin colour was also different. There were no stripes. Similarly the wild pigeons were bigger in size. Perhaps it was the difference in the sub-species that accounted for this variation. They apparently had larger fat reserves to counter the cold weather.
I love walking but it is actually the colours of nature that I enjoy on my way. Someone might say I am trying to be poetic in my approach and I dare not disagree with them. The fact remains that I am inclined to be poetic without being a poet. Romance with nature is a way to get closer to the Creator forcing me to remember G. Moore for his words:
Other men say they have seen angels,
But I have seen thee,
And thou art enough.