‘Oh, lone is the path that turns its head, that coils the slopes, and reaches unseen peaks.’
A ramble no more amongst congested city parks, devils careering on wheelie boards, arses slung from low-hung jeans, bins stocked full with detritus: used pampers, split micro-brewery plastic tankards and tomato splattered pizza cartons.
Out into the big sky and mountainous ranges, the air rare and tight, the urban hiker takes his beard for a wild unanswered whistle and a solitary testing climb. No mobile reception, no wifi, just him and his lightly groomed, much-coveted facial hair.
‘Beard, I like it. I like it very much,’ he says.
The beard tenses, its follicles frosting with the cold, tightening its grasp on the skin around his master’s mouth to produce a satisfying satisfied grin.
‘I want to shout “I’m smiling because I’m happy!”’
The beard has other ideas and tightens its hold further so the hiker can speak no more. He is forced to sit down with his beard at the mountain’s peak and listen and watch, the cold mist rising from the valley to join his own exhaled plumes of breath, his heart slowing to a single beat, everything laid out before him.