Haze changed down a gear to allow for the increase in gradient. A heavy sweat began to trickle down his back. There was a time when cars sped up this hill with the minimum of effort, slipping down into third to cruise past the trucks stuggling up the outside lane. Strange how these huge hulking roads use to refer to their divisions as lanes. Now of course all motorways had been reduced to just the two cycle-lanes, the extra were being gradually broken up and given back to nature.
It was heavy-going, but he finally reached the top, straightened up, changed up and relaxed to enjoy the steady descent towards the abandoned flyover. The rest wasn’t quite enough to make up for the effort of the climb, and Haze decided to stop for a while.
This lay-by was near to one of the most important battlegrounds of the late Nineties. Lone-Oak, near Newbury. Well, important in that nobody else was battling at all. Eco-rights were just so passe back then. Now it was an essential concern for everyone. The likes of Balin and Swampy were just underground fairy-tales, told by old-age travellers to put their grandchildren to sleep.
Haze had heard tell of these tales. How Balin had spent sixteen days atop a tripod attached to the lone oak, with only chocolate and hash to keep him going. He had only saved one tree, but his act was an inspiration to many others, many were to copy his endurance. Swampy for instance, the mad mole, who had burrowed for an entire week, chaining himself to the root of a tree twenty feet under the ground. These men were the forerunners of many mass protest groups who began to mobilise themselves in the Nineties. Without them there would never have been Millenium Party, who memorably occupied the M1 for two whole months, neccessitating the introduction of the armed forces to clear them away.
The lone oak was once one of many, and as a tribute to the mighty Balin, his children had planted many saplings along the roadside to replace its former neighbours. One day it might reclaim its old name of Middle-oak. Haze closed his eyes and tried to picture the scene before him as it once had been, before the cuts and disections had been made to the landscape. His own picture, no matter how luscious, couldn’t compare to the actuality, to all the gentle hills, to the dense woodland that had been desecrated.