Monday, July 20, 2009

A few notes on horse beans.

I think I would have been very happy to spend an entire month (or more) traversing all of the beautiful fields in the Cotswolds. One might expect that fields would all start to look the same after a few days of stomping through them--but we didn't think so. In fact, there are certain fields that I believe we will always remember.

The following photograph is of poor Erin nearly lost in a field of very tall horse beans. This field, which we encountered at the tail end of the first day of our walk, was the subject of many conversations and rants over the course of our journey, and I believe that it may yet be spoken of for many years to come. Let me tell you about it.

An excerpt from my travelogue, July 5:

As we walked, the rain picked up. We approached a little road and referred to our map and directions. We needed to make a decision--we could take a path through pastures that could be quite muddy in the rain, or take a footpath that would be 'better in rainy conditions' and would lead us past a castle. We picked the latter. We followed the nice little footpath, and indeed we were quite comfortable, protected from the rain by trees above us. Our path led us to a stile and a field of beans, and our directions told us to walk through the field on a diagonal path.

The field was a little wet initially. And then, as we continued, the bean plants became very tall, towering over us on the path. We couldn't even see Nile anymore and were shouting for him, but he was nowhere to be found. If we strayed five feet apart, we became invisible to each other in the dense crop. The huge bean plants were soaking wet, and we had made the mistake of neglecting to put on our rain pants. Erin looked like she had gone swimming in a pool of slop by the middle of the field, and her pants, made of thick stretchy cotton, had gotten 8 inches longer with all of the water weight.

Just as we were panicking a little about having lost Nile, though, we heard loud swearing coming from somewhere deeper in the beans. It was Nile, drenched and coated in mud and muttering about "fucking beans." We eventually made it through the field, but not before we were all miserably wet and cold--the rainwater clinging to the beans had trickled down our necks and into our sleeves, so we were even wet beneath our raincoats. Erin and I, in cotton pants rather than nylon like Katy and Nile, were so sloppy wet that we considered hiking the rest of the way in our underwear and buckling our miserable pants to our packs. (We didn't.)

As it turned out, that path through the field was most likely a wrong turn, because we didn't end up passing by the castle at all, but instead marched directly into Winchcombe looking like filthy, mud-coated vagabonds. We got frightened looks from a couple of tourists in the town, who spoke German in hushed tones as we passed.

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