We ate Italian pasta in a French village with a Swiss man. This was the ‘might be friends with man’ but after ‘deep dinner discourses’, we are now friends. A delightfully gentle, astute and warm linguistic pastor he lives in a town deep in the valley below the mighty Alps. These are the mountains that Corrie fell in love with when living in Europe 35 years ago and started a love affair she has never lost. While Ben was admiring them from below, Corrie was doing likewise from above, skiing.

We talked about worldly things – things about why we do these walks. We talked about life and the myriad of opportunities – some we take, some we ignore, We talked about death, its unpredictability, and the different forms of grief that are its consequence. We talked about illness and the limitations we may have in its cure. We talked about the mind free of the same limitations, and in most cases with unlimited potential, once we experience its power. We talked about healthy self discipline that allows us to be our own therapist, the cheapest and best there is.

He caught up with us the next morning and the continuous 4 hour walk together in the unpredicted cool took us over halfway to our little house in the country. Grape vines are now decorating the undulating landscapes, rolling, sometimes gently, sometimes sharply, and planted at various angles to allow for the greatest quantity. They are now the size of tiny peas, in tiny ‘half finger long’ bunches appearing like a miniature imitation of the real ones. Wheat and oat fields (oats look like wheat except the head seems to have fallen to the side) still grace the landscape, 2-3 feet tall now, thick and luscious.

Kim and Lee, our Korean friends from the first day, were having lunch in a field as we were about to begin a long descent, so we said our goodbyes to Ben and stayed awhile with our Parisian-Korean friends as we swapped blog addresses, and photos of my back travel to Korea. The are also going out to Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, France and who knows who might be taking unknown pictures of my back.

I was quietly congratulating myself for not having fallen once when two non walking incidents occurred. Unable to trip me on my walk, the great unknown had other plans. Our inability to find a good lunch place continued as I formed a rock chair on the edge of a lake. While getting up, I lost my footing and fell back onto the rocks, my feet finding a soft landing in the lake – a few scratches. Later while helping Elena (our hostess) bring clothes out of the rain, I cut my foot. She is now also my nurse.

We are really settled into the trip now and there is a normality in our daily life. Our homes change in size and location while residents vary, but the common factor of walking provides us all with a job in the same industry. We go home each night, sleep and eat, and then dress for work the next day. The beauty of it all is that it’s a pretty good job, we chose our own hours, and work at a pace that we determine. Taking photos, visiting ancient villages and choosing who you work with are all optional, but for most there is a quiet determination to finish the work, and within a certain time frame.