The Wisdom of the Feet


(Several seconds [CC / Flickr])

The blizzard wrapped me in white. The horizon vanished with the trees and bushes of the moor, including the tree I was following my compass toward.

I was walking alone, at the end of a row of footprints in the snow that led back into the white. As long as they were straight, I was still heading east. My compass needle might point unerringly at magnetic north, but that didn’t help me walk in a straight line. The white out denied me any fixed point to ensure I wasn’t walking round in circles.

I counted my paces, fixing my gaze on where I thought that tree must be. Fifty metres. A hundred. Two hundred.

I must have passed it by now.

All I’d seen was white but, I told myself, landmarks weren’t the only way to find a direction. There was the wind. As long as it was in my face, I was heading east.

As long as the wind didn’t change.

Nothing I could do about that.

My feet had left my mind to its own devices, methodically sinking into the snow and pulling themselves out while I debated with myself and decided nothing.

Sometimes the feet are wiser than the mind.

The mind that was pointing out that while my feet were carrying me eastward, I hadn’t seen a single tree or bush or rock on a moor that was far from even. It was as if the blizzard had swallowed the features of the moor as it swallowed its colours, replacing them with featureless white.

No, not featureless. There was a flaw directly in front of me. A flaw that darkened and grew as it drew closer. It took shape as it approached, developing two arms and two legs but never a colour. It was a person, as wrapped and waterproofed against the winter as me, but the blizzard allowed no colour to whoever it was. I must have looked as monochrome to them.

Whoever it was drew toward me until they formed a shadow in the wind. It was only then that I realised I’d been squinting into it but even with my eyes fully open, the other person’s face was as hidden by their hood as mine must have been to them.

“A coincidence,” I said. “We must be the only people on this moor right now.”

“It is.” The words came to me stripped of any character by our hoods and the background roar of the wind

“Where are you going?” I asked.


“You’ve a long walk before you reach anything.”

“I have.”

I strained to discern any age or gender, but all I could filter from the blizzard was meaning.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“The unsought,” said the figure. “Welcome.”

Some impulse made me turn back to see the line of my footsteps, zigging and zagging into the edge of the white out.

I faced forward again. “Where did you come from?”

I was alone. My feet refused to move while I watched the blizzard erase the line of footsteps heading westward toward me.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

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