Day 48: Mortara via Robbio

Number of kilometres today: 34.5

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,234.8

Total steps since Canterbury:  1,749,768

It was another mostly beautiful day amongst the rice fields.  As I started to leave Vercelli at 8am, I caught glimpses of the sun in between the multi-storey apartment buildings, a giant ball of flaming rose hanging in the hazy sky, the type of sun I have only ever seen in Asia. After walking along the edge of footpathless, peak hour SP11, repeating my prayer that I have had to say a few times already on this journey; please don't let me die today, I was safely back amongst the rice fields or so I thought.

This afternoon I had my first (and it had better be the last) encounter with a real wild snake.  I was fifty metres along a rocky and grassy track between rice fields, happily listening to music and trying to take off my long-sleeved top whilst still walking with the Devil on my back when a noise on the ground got my attention.  Was it rustling?  Hissing? Rattling?  I am not sure.  All I know is that I looked down and less than a metre away was a metre long snake with its body reared in striking position. I swore as I sprinted faster than I ever thought possible with the Devil on my back.  After twenty steps I looked back over my left should expecting to see it chasing and lunging after me but it had gone.  I ran twenty more steps before I slowed to a fast march wanting to get the hell out of those rice fields. I had another 3.5 kilometres of them to walk through.  Every rustle, every movement, I was expecting to see another snake.  There were no snakes....that I could see. Only tiny bronze frogs and grasshoppers.

Despite the unseen dangers, I have been enjoying walking through this part of the world. As the rice is ripe for harvest, there are no mosquitoes at the moment, just my usual entourage of midges hovering around my head as a black halo.  I am so in love with the colours of the landscape; bright green of grass and new seedlings, fields of ripe rice glowing gold and the younger rice glowing green and gold their tips flaming orange, the dry straw yellow leftovers of harvested rice against the muted blue of the hazy sky. Everything is a soft shade of bright.

I am feeling a little homesick for familiarity tonight. Being able to fully understand what is being said to me. Being able to communicate back and be understood. Having that intrinsic understanding of how things work that we take for granted in our homelands. It is also a little bit of missing belonging to a place and being able to share with loved ones especially as I watch the strong connections within communities here in Italy. It's just me, alone, feeling a little obvious in the city in a way I never feel when I am in the middle of the countryside. For me loneliness is only a disease of the city. Just as I am passing through these places and time, everything is transient, even emotions. Rest. Self-care. Another step forward. This too will pass.

A glimpse of the huge pink sun

Love mornings. It's mainly rice here but there are some cornfields too.

Approaching a farm on the outskirts of Vercelli

An old building in the middle of a harvested field.

A building in Palestro. Love the madonna painting. Almost didn't take it but walked back to take this snap.

Another golden field