Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). – Ali Edwards, for Reverb 10
(Incidentally, I am totally doing them out of order. I’m a rebel. Or, I don’t quite have answers for the previous ones.)
This year, answering this question is pretty easy for me. It was July 4th, the day my tripmates and I went to Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, England. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we spent the first part of it walking up and down gentle hills in the middle of picturesque countryside, along the tram lines of a barley field, going to see a crop circle and then through pastureland to the West Kennet Long Barrow.
I come from farming folk and even though I have been a city dweller all my life, I always love the chance to go out into the countryside and see the endless, beautiful, fields of green and golden wheat, barley and oats, as well as bright yellow mustard and canola, and beautiful blue flax. I find it energizing and I always feel like I can’t drink enough of it in. This day did not disappoint, as the barley was pretty well up to my hips and tawny golden in colour. There was a warm wind in the air and the sun was shining in the bright blue sky. I found myself walking in long, quick strides, taking deep breaths of the fresh air and unable to contain my grin as we walked.
Getting to be inside a crop circle was incredible. You hear about things like this, but you don’t ever think you will get to see one yourself (that’s kind of how the whole trip was for me). It was neither the first nor the last one on our trip, but for me, it was one of the most memorable. I found my spot and turned to sit, finding myself facing Silbury Hill, the giant man-made mound, constructed around the same time as the pyramids, which to this day puzzles researchers as to its actual purpose (interestingly, 90% of the world’s crop circles are purported to appear within a 10-mile radius. Oh good, my nerd is showing).
We sat and enjoyed the circle, the quiet, the sunshine. We walked back though the field (along the tram lines! This is very important, it prevents damage to the crop and thereby, the farmer’s income), down to the road and then a bit further along to climb another hill to the West Kennet Long Barrow. This was on an open field with a pathway leading up to the barrow and long grass on either side.
West Kennet Long Barrow is an ancient burial chamber. It is reputed to be the largest of its kind in the region and has what I seem to remember as four burial chambers and one larger chamber in the back. The… um… previous residents… have been relocated and it is maintained by the National Trust and open to the public. Our tour guide went in first to light some candles and incense for us, and then we went into the large room at the back. I was surprised that it did not feel dark and cramped (there’s a small skylight in the ceiling, which helped), and the stone was unexpectedly comfortable to rest against. It was early enough in the day (for both sites) that we had the place to ourselves for a little while, and it was very interesting to just be in that ancient space.
After emerging from the barrow, we had some time to enjoy the sunshine and the incredible scenery of the area. The barrow is on a hill and all around it are more rolling hills, and you can see for miles. The wind was gently blowing and the grass was rustling and it felt like our surrounds were actively assisting in keeping everything hushed – even talking at normal volume sounded quiet and unintrusive to the experience. I just couldn’t stop looking around myself and marvelling (and snapping copious amounts of the infamous “Pictures just don’t do it justice!” scenery shots — although I must say, they may be boring for others, but my photos take me right back there :-) ).
When I think about my trip and think back on that morning, I smile. I remember feeling energized and lit up and so happy to be there. Most definitely a wonderful highlight for this year.