The bell rang ten times at Stanton’s only church. A church older than the first settlement at Jamestown. I sat on a wooden park bench in pitch black, save for the illumination of a street lamp older than my state, with its soft yellow light barely giving form to the hedges, likely older than the furthest generation in which I can trace my heritage, in front of cottages built by wool barons but now occupied by millionaires who disappear with the sunset.
It’s so quiet that I can hear the subtle crackling of tobacco as I draw on my cigar. The quiet clink of my steel flask as I drop the lid is almost deafening. This is it. This what I came for. This little strip of grass, flanked by Disneylandesque manicured shrubs, has not been altered by modern times. This park bench still entertains the sounds of shoed horses – at least as much as cars. This has not been fabricated. It has been preserved.
On stiff legs, I hobble and wobble and swagger back to my inn in perfect serine darkness, extinguish my smoke and say good night to Mr. Elijah Craig.
How can I describe magic? Pure alchemy. What an amazing evening of solitude.
I spent the pre-dusk portion of my evening at Stanton’s only restaurant, the Mount Inn. Amazing beer and food that were trifling compared to the view.
Tomorrow, 13 miles through Winchcombe and on to Cleeve Hill. Day one: unmitigated success. Smoking, sipping in silence. Satisfied in Stanton.