Then to the reel The Broken Pledge, on which the audibly tapping foot and more up-tempo guitar give fair warning that the pace of life can’t stay slow forever. Like it or not your heart is pumping once again, so if your feet aren’t walking or dancing already, they’ll surely be tapping. Hayes is not a fiddler who tries to play at warp speed, but the friendly lilt of the tune belies the fact that he’s working hard. So too with the next tune, The Mother And Child Reel, where the delightfully syncopated beat continues to banish the cobwebs. If head and heart aren’t yet in sync then the closing reel, the classic Toss The Feathers, will ensure they are. And your feet will surely follow. By the time this amazing eleven minute set concludes you’re ready to fall to the ground exhausted, or climb to the top of the nearest mountain, or cry for joy; perhaps all three. That old scoundrel melancholy has been banished for another day.
Some music can do that for you, and its moods and movements seem so appropriate as an accompaniment for walking. Hayes, something of a philosopher on fiddling, believes that neither great speed nor brilliant technique is enough to make a great fiddler. Rather he seeks for that “lonesome touch” that is the heart and soul of fiddling.
Hayes explains it this way.
The lonesome touch is something that is difficult to achieve. One is forced to put the requirements of the music before all personal considerations, to play honestly from the heart with no motive other than the selfless expression of joy and beauty for their own sake.
So much of that philosophy seems to apply also to walking. Speed, technique, equipment – these aren’t the soul of a good walk. Really seeing what’s around you; dealing with the limitations of your body, your exhaustion, the weather; working with rather than against those you walk with; putting the requirements of the walk ahead of your personal considerations; these are part of the soul of walking. Only then can you find that “lonesome touch” that lifts bushwalking out of being just another activity and into the soul-nourishing realms.