When I left, I hadn’t planned on walking that long. I woke up, walked up to the great star of the WWII monument just outside of town, and then, really just because, I ventured off on a lone dirt road that wound into a cloudy, wet distance.
At first, I remember nothing but sun and farmland and quiet, grazing cows. Cows I could walk up to and just stare at… they never, for some reason, seemed bothered by me. Then, on the very edge of town, the old Belgian man getting his mail as I walked down the road. I’ll never forget speaking to him in broken French, saying something about the beauty of the day, and wishing him well. But, I kept going.
It did, eventually, become too much, and the first charm wore off as the run started coming down, and I got increasingly lost. Wandering in a maddening haze. But I was drawn by the history of the place. Bastogne. The outskirts of town and the hills where the Battle of the Bulge had been fought. And everywhere signs pointing to monuments that, for some reason, I could never find. Just dirt and rain, my shoes soaked and ruined, and…
The bleak, thick forests
Stands of ominous, dark tress –
Something happened here.