Iris finds me again. It is inexplicable. I cannot tell you what makes me decide to stay in Slovenia for one more day, only that I choose this new place because there is a tap. I cannot tell you why I decide to hike much farther than usual when huge rainclouds threaten. Climbing up through slender myth-kissed beech trees I stumble out onto a rocky outcrop where I find her: purple, extravagant & bright in the enfolding mist; furry yellow tongue licking at the rain. She asks me to sit for a time but the weather is worsening so I leave with a promise to think on her. The rest of the journey is stunning vistas & battering, head-spinning rain as I hike a high sliver of trail with wisps of cloud strung out below like fleece caught on the barbed wire of roads looping across muted green countryside. I stop to take a photograph and curse this years-old raincoat that is now as waterproof as a paper towel. I vow to repurpose it into a washbag for my swimkit. The phone fills with rain, 5% battery & falling, but it’s as far to go backwards as it is to keep going so, onward. A vertiginous descent through endless shifting scree makes heart hammer & kneecaps whimper. And when I almost want to give up (although where would I go?) we reach a charred & blackened treeline. The earth is so slick beneath feet I hug mutilated treetrunks like slalom poles. Still I slide at least 20ft on my arse, a wild-eyed hound under each arm. Eventually we are hiccuped out into steep, rain-drenched meadowland and wobble through the last field to home. Back in the van, scrubbed clean with water boiled on the stove, hounds towel-dried, fed & snoozing, I think on the purple flower who spoke with such intent. Sending these photos to an Insta-friend I am perhaps not so surprised to discover that she is Iris Croatica – the national flower of the neighbouring country, Croatia 💜 (& a strictly protected plant).
With thanks to @andrewtimothyob for plant identification.