Off track

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Every now and then, on our healthful morning walks, we go off track. Retired life is comfortable, even predictable, but last week, living dangerously, we turned down an unknown path, studded with wild boar hoof prints. The track opened up to reveal a ruin, alone in the field, a byre and a shepherd’s hut with the roof fallen in and a deep open well. I leant over and looked into the depths, but I couldn’t see my reflection. Approaching the ruin alone, I peered tentatively through the byre door and fancied I smelt the ghost of the donkeys that once toiled between the surrounding  walls and terraces, where stunted ailing carobs and almonds grew untended. Then, just by the door, I spied an old pitchfork propped up for the last time and  a lump rose in my throat for he who once wielded it and his lost way of life. I turned back to my man, feeling melancholy for the rich years we’d left behind us and our lost youth and strength.

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