The wonderful thing about not knowing where you are going, is that you can never be lost. It doesn't matter where I am going, as long as I like where I end up. There is something very comforting in allowing oneself that freedom. This doesn't just pertain to travel, but to life.
Hiking along the coastal trail is one of my favorite things to do here on the Isle of Man, and today I find myself, once again, on the cliffside path. The winds are blowing hard today but I know my trusty new quilted jacket wll keep me warm and I don't think much about the 47kph (knot) winds. Today I have given myself a personal challenge, to walk the miles of this cliffside path without stepping into a puddle. You may laugh, but trust me when I say this is going to be far from simple. I don't get too far along before I reach the first section of the narrow trail that is pure liquid. I stop for a second and eye up the steep slopes on either side making sure it is safe for me to put my hands on its surface. I lean on the tall grass and climb up. I walk along my steep perch until I pass the dreaded soupy mess. The island is lush and green, but not every plant here is of the friendly variety. The endless Heather is beautiful, but prickly, and the ever present Goss is downright evil. It's spikey, woody, stalks lurk everywhere, just waiting for you to make the mistake of bumping into them, at which point your clothing will be instantaneously shredded, not to mention what it does to your flesh. It attempts to disguise its sinister ways by covering itself in bright yellow flowers, but I have made the mistake of touching it and I don't plan on repeating that unpleasant experience. If the Goss doesn't get you the wild Blackberyy vines will. Their gangly arms protrude from the side of the trail everywhere and I already have several holes in my prized jacket because of it.
The winds are much stronger than I realized and I find myself being blown off balance regularly. If anyone were to see me they would probably think I was drunk. I stumble to the right as the wind comes in off the sea, I adjust myself to counter the wind just in time for it to cease blowing, causing me to stumble towards the sea. When the wind hits me from the front I think "lean in Patty, lean in" then it stops and I stumble forward. I move cautiously along the steep cliff sections, ever mindful of the wind now. Being the ever stubborn gal that I am, I never once consider retreating. Avoid the puddles, stay upright, I got this. This continues for abut 45 minutes before I reach the section of the trail that I know is going to be my biggest challenge.
Picture a narrow path sliced through the 6 foot Goss bushes that are on both sides. The path itself is long gone beneath a stinky, watery black ooze that I have never once been able to avoid contact with. I stop and stare at it, I can smell the water, and I search for an alternate route. There isn't one, so I walk backwards on the trail until I find an area that I think I can get through. I leave the path and walk through the tall grasses. I don't get far when I feel pain in my shin and I freeze in my tracks, my eyes look downward to the dreaded black berry vine which has embedded itself in my jeans. It feels like barbed wire. I unhinge it from my pants and look around at my options. There aren't any, so with a big sigh, I turn around in the direction of the trail. One after the other I plunge my hiking boots into the disgusting muck and attempt to avoid the Gossy spikes that threaten me from the sides. Mother Nature one - Patty zero. But it's okay, because I am going to have a capppucino and a creme covered scone when I reach the end of the trail and the coastal town of Peel.!
After two months on this lovely island I find myself driving in the direction of the airport. The airport is located in "Castle Town." I love everything about this island, the sights, the people, the names, and the sea. I shall miss everything about it. I will forever hold it in a special place in my heart.
Thank you universe for nestling me under your wing and keeping me safe as I meandered my way across Italy and the Isle of Man. Thank you for the wind on my face, the grass under my boots, the paint beneath my brush and the memories that live in my heart. This little travelling artist is most grateful. Until it is time to move again, thank you, for this life, for this time.
(Now safely tucked atop my snowy mountain back in Canada, I am about to begin painting a 5foot x 5foot piece inspired by the beautiful Isle of Man. I will post it to the website when it is complete)