Cool and cloud, the threat- or promise- of rain. Not a day for going too far, but a Sunday morning is not for sitting indoors staring out of the window, so we went along the old railway line for a few miles, which is what hundreds of people do at the weekend, whatever the weather.
The old railway line, and stop me if you've heard this before, was taken up and the track in that section turned into a footpath 20 years ago when the high-speed line was built to Seville and the route altered slightly. Straightened out, really, and flattened, as some trains don't stop. I know I must have gone along it by train in 1987, on the way to Córdoba, when I had never heard the name of the town I now live in. Now I know every tree, every bush, every stone on the path, and, I could almost say, every face that I pass as I move along it.
When we go together Mrs Hickory runs and I walk beside her. My legs are very long while her hips are quite a bit nearer the ground, so it works very well. And I'm used to walking fast.
Everyone is there. At times it is thick with familiar faces; I meet friends, clients, barmen and shop assistants from places I regularly spend money, faces that are only familiar from the path itself, people I say hello to because I've always said hello to them, and neither of us remembers why, or if there ever was areason, people who say hello because they think I'm someone else, and people you don't say hello to, but who represent groups that are also part of that 'everyone' who is there: Chinese, South American, Morrocan and Rumanian immigrants- now that's real integration- the old, the young, the fat, the thin, the fast, the slow, the fit, the ones who want to be fit, the ones who don't realize they've left it too late, the ladies who chat, the ones who promised the children yesterday when it seemed like a good idea and the ones who pretend to be walking the dog. They're all there.
It drizzled a bit, we analysed the patterns and colours of the clouds and the fields, we said hello to a couple of horses in a field beside the path, and we went freely through the land that was for a hundred years the domain of the iron king.
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