SATURDAY WAS A BIG DAY for me. After 30 years of dreaming about publishing a book, and after many years of writing one, re-writing it, and then re-writing it again, my book was finally ready to publish. Originally, I’d chosen May 1 as the day it would happen, a symbolic date – the date that my walk across Europe had started. But I soon discovered that producing a professionally formatted book took significant work, and so I pushed the date back a month to June 1. But this was a symbolic date too – as readers of my book will see in the prologue. June 1 was the day that could so easily have been my last day alive. How better to mark it than with starting a whole new chapter of my life?
Because it can take up to 72 hours for a book to go ‘live’ on Amazon I had to click on a small button – ‘publish your paperback’ – three days early. And so on Saturday May 29 that is what I did. I sat down, paused a moment, reflected on everything that had led to this – all the work I’ve done, all the thought and intention; all the incredible support I’ve received from friends, strangers and publishing professionals – and then it was time.
Stomach churning, I made a barely perceptible movement. A twitch of the fingers with my mouse-pen. A tiny act. But what a hugely momentous act it was for me!
And then it was done, and time to wait. And where better to wait than in the hills…
It’s been a fabulous spring here in Colorado’s Front Range – for people who don’t mind rain. (A group you can count me among to be sure!) Every single weekend for over two months cool wet weather has spilled into the foothills as though tied to an unbreakable schedule. Sunday each week: rain. Monday: rain. Because of it, the hills don’t look as they normally do. Before the wet spell kicked in back in March the land was dry and winter-yellow, until the big march blizzard turned it white. And now, at the end of May, after the weekly drenchings, one color dominates once again, but not sunburned yellow, not white – instead, a color that my home landscape sees less than any other: green. A deep, lush, heart-breakingly beautiful green.
With rain teaming, and the land verdant, and my book travelling through Amazon’s inner workings, I turned to the hills, and ran in freedom across the mountains above my home town. Through air sweet and clean, through drifting fog, through soothing dampness, I danced like the twenty-year-old I still am at heart, leaping over rocks, brushing against moisture-laden undergrowth, cleansing my spirit, celebrating my existence. Honestly, invigorating doesn’t come close to how it felt!
By late Sunday, rain was still tipping down, and indoors was no place to be. Travelling for three rough off-trail hours I weaved upward into fog-bound, rain-washed foothills. I made my bed in a hidden valley, and settled down for a peaceful night. Tarp pitched, nearby creek running high, I wallowed in the soft air and the stirring isolation. The dampness transported me back to Britain’s atmospheric and much-missed mountains, and to Norway – the watery mountain kingdom to be featured in my second book. Breathing deeply, I savored the soft air and wet conditions as much as I’d savored the deep snow I’d slept upon just three weeks earlier. May, I have now decided, is my favorite month. From the depths of winter to luxuriant green in just a few weeks. Few transitions in nature are more dramatic. Or more pleasurable.
Lying in my sleeping bag the next morning, listening to more birds singing than I’ve ever before heard in the Front Range, appreciating rain drumming on the tarp, was better than perfect. I could have stayed all day. But eventually I packed away camp and, leaving nothing behind but a small patch of flattened grass that would soon spring up, I set out. Looking back, anyone passing would think a mule deer had slept there. Except, no-one ever comes down here. It’s a magical, secret place. Another one of my treasured ‘other’ places.
The saunter back home was close to perfect too, even though steady rain fell, even though the water-laden grass and leafy thickets left my feet and legs soaked. Moisture here in Colorado’s Front Range, with its arid steppe climate, is a rare treat, a real gift. Without it, the extravagant wildflowers now painting the mountains wouldn’t bloom. Without it, the ever-growing increasingly-thirsty human population would be in trouble. Stopping often to enjoy the wildflowers, stepping carefully to avoid harming them, I walked in deep appreciation. For the color on display, for the memories of other places that the wetness stirred, for the emotions that swamped me, for the water’s necessity to life itself, and for the simple physical sensation of clean wet rain upon my face, I felt nothing but joy.
And I felt joy once I was back home. I opened Amazon… and there it was, my book – The Earth Beneath My Feet – live! It was available for purchase by anyway who saw it.
I wanted to run around the house screaming, but didn’t. My family were sleeping in! But I allowed myself a broad grin… and a long moment of satisfaction.
I had worked hard for this.