On beautiful days like this I am glad to be me, the archetypical tramp rambling down the cut, soaking up the sun after undisturbed sleep beneath a bridge. I have fruit from a community orchard I happened by last night, and I have just enough money in my pocket to buy tobacco and a bottle of wine – even people like me deserve a treat on a Friday.
This morning when I woke to birdsong I got to thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of living off-grid, and decided that on sunny days like this (and we’ve had so many this year, even in Scotland) the highs far outweigh the lows…
I have no worries except for an empty belly. I don’t have mail to address or junk through my door because I don’t have a door. I can go wherever I want, wherever my hiking boots will take me and my roaming mind decides. I can imagine this is my garden, the largest garden in Britain. I can be totally alone and speak to no-one, or say hello to passers-by and if absolutely necessary to dog-walkers. I can syncopate my ukelele with a view from a bridge, and be occasionally lucky enough to get a coin or two from those who saunter by, though I never ask. My chosen song of late is Bring me Sunshine.
I can power-walk as if my life has purpose or I can simply drift like the small branches of fallen trees on the unhurried current. I can think what I like, decide what to agree with on my radio or get lost in happy memories of my children when they were children. I can look in the water and reflect that life is not so bad, I have nobody to please except myself, I have no kids telling me how to do my job because I don’t have a job, and I have nobody to hurt me because I have nobody.
Alone I meander the towpath, wondering what will be around the next corner, what water under the next bridge? Inevitably there’ll be a winter, I know that. But for now I’ve been brought sunshine, which means the most important high of all is I can walk this walk without the dog.