We stop at the top of the small hill, and look down at the road meandering away from us. The bikes lie on the short grass, next to tall poles that remind us that, here, the snow can erase everything, and level the landscape, but we are too early for it. The air is cold, the pale rays of the winter sun lit the distant crags. Soon the night will fall. We set the tent not far from here, and lit a fire. Tomorrow is another day.
It was a wonderful day, walking along the ancient path, through the beloved hills. Closer to the village, a helpful farmer had left the way clear, in the middle of the fields of colza. The scent of the crop was strong in the cool air. They stopped, looking at each other.
“We will remember this instant of peace,” she said slowly, “when winter is back, and the ground is frozen…”
He smiled, and took her hand. “Not that long ago, I remember climbing that hill in the snow… And it must have been with you!” They laughed.
Around them the circle of stones would be their refuge, their protectors against the demons of the night. She looked away toward the snow-covered hills:
“There will be our home. In the morning we will cross those fields, and then climb up. But tonight we will rest. The ancient warriors are there: look! They were expecting us…”
She showed him the stones, some erect, some lying, as if asleep.
He felt, somehow, reassured: they were now in her country, not so far from them, he knew, they would soon meet her tribe. He would follow the rites. He would shed his blood. Later, they would receive him in their rank.
Later still, they would have a child.