Recently I have been walking along some country roads in our neighbourhood. I’m not fanatical about it; I just find it refreshing and hope that it’s good for my general health. So it was that on a cool, dry Saturday afternoon in late April I set off along Killynure Road West. In no time at all I was passing Cheeky Cherubs nursery, and the thought of it made me smile. I smiled even more as I waved to a passing motorist who spontaneously returned my greeting.
A few horses in a roadside paddock took a look at me and one of them, coated and saddled, snorted a kindly welcome. Then, just round a bend, a young couple wearing jodhpurs managed to ignore my greeting. One up for the horses.
Turning into Killynure Road I caught sight of a male pheasant appearing over a hedge and landing at the roadside in front of me. It glanced up and raised its tail feathers. I think it was saying “Hi there, good to see you.” At any rate it made me feel welcome.
I pressed on past a profusion of bright yellow whin bushes and found myself greeted by two friendly donkeys while, in an adjoining field, a family of rabbits grabbed my attention. Then my ear picked up a whirring sound as I was overtaken by a helmeted, hard pedalling bunch of MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra). They had no time to raise a hand in greeting, but I sensed their enjoyment of the open road and, just like the donkeys and the rabbits, they enhanced my day. So, too, did the panoramic view of the Dromara hills and, beyond them, the Mourne Mountains as I turned into Oughley Road.
I was still appreciating that view when a tractor pulling a trailer came along. Its driver responded to my raised hand with an exuberant wave. That seemed to set a tone since, within the next few minutes, another half dozen drivers and a man on a motorised lawnmower all made me feel welcome. There were some further delights in the form of herds of contented cattle and a flock of sheep with a great many healthy looking spring lambs among them. I suppressed an unseemly thought about mint sauce.
Turning into Drumalig Road I couldn’t help but notice lots of roadside bluebells, a great abundance of oxeye daisies and some wayside primroses. All of this complemented the deep yellow of the whin bushes and, of course, the dandelions. I might not have noticed any of this had I simply been driving through the countryside. But, if you walk and take time to look around, there is much to see that can enrich your experience of life. That sentiment called to my mind an observation by the painter Vincent van Gogh that “the best way to know God is to love many things.”
As I approached Rockmount Golf Club another betractored farmer gave me a wave. Then some quite classy cars passed by on their way in to the golf course. I raised my hand as usual in greeting. None of them responded – perhaps a lone anoraked back packer is below the radar for Saturday afternoon golfers.
Never mind. Lots of other people, and quite a few animals, had cheered me and enriched the quality of my day. In any case I conjectured that not only they but also the self-absorbed golfers and the jodhpurred young lovers all belonged within what is sometimes called the BOMFOG (brotherhood of man, Fatherhood of God – no I didn’t make that up).
I saw much that was life enhancing on that walk. It also gave me an opportunity to think beyond the everyday and, thereby, appreciate that “if we walk in the light, as He does, we have fellowship with one another…..(1 John 1.v7).”