A friend in a storm

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Every seasoned hiker knows that when the weather really starts coming on hard, you just have to pull your hood low over your eyes, get your head down and get on with it.

It’s a good job my pilgrim companion Dave B wasn’t doing this earlier today though, or he’d have never noticed the burly dairy farmer waving at us from his porch and beckoning us out of the thunderstorm.

He was a deep-voiced beast of a man, built like a Sherman tank, with an XXL t-shirt stretched across his vast shoulders and Harley tattoos on his forearms. As we sat dripping on the porch and listening to the thunder rolling overhead, he brought us out a pot of strong, hot coffee that warmed us right through, and sat swapping stories with us for so long that eventually he poured out the last drops of the pot and disappeared inside to make another.

Our friendly Samaritan was actually a Dutchman, who seemed to have travelled all over and lived as far afield as New Zealand at one time. He and his son – a boy of maybe twelve or so with a wide smile – had taken on a seven-year lease for the dairy farm just the previous summer, and he spoke with a farmer’s casual sense of fatalism as he watched the rain rinsing away the grass seed he’d planted only the previous day. It seemed like he pined a little for his homelands. Norway is a beautiful place, full of kind people, but I can imagine it isn’t an easy country to assimilate into.

He was an interesting and warm fellow anyway, and when the skies cleared and we set our boots back on the road again, we reflected that we’d never have had such a pleasant morning if the weather hadn’t turned so sour on us.

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