It lashes hard, soaking my face, turning the path to puddles and pools. In the pools, the raindrops form an intricate pattern of rings, forming and dying, forming and dying so fast, and seeming to interlock, as if each one wants to form a chain, but they spread out too quickly and the chains are broken. The sound of them is like music.
The sound of my own walking is a rushing of waterproofs, a thunder of breathing in the confines of my hood. The rain forms great droplets on the edge of my hood which drip and splash onto my face. It ought to sadden me, but it makes me want to laugh.
I am free! Look at the sea, grey and flat with the rain, ringing like a million, million tiny bells. It goes on forever. Look at the mountains, dark as velvet and shrouded with ragged mist. For all I can see, they go on forever, too. They are heavy with the ripe unknown; it nestles in their corries and sweeps across their slopes of scree. The moor is dark and luscious with rain, every mound of heather like a rich fat dumpling, every grass-stalk glittering with drops. The sweet rain on my lips, the smell of wet ferns, the very air tastes of roads untravelled, places unseen and sweet, sweet freedom.
I walk through this paradise alone, revelling in my loneliness and the crunch and splash of my boots on the road. Then, just when I begin to feel the chill on my shoulders and wish for some air around my ears, the rain lessens (but never stops), and I lift my head and see a streak of blue. The clouds have broken, and the sun falls on the earth: not radiantly and completely, but gently and in a fickle mood. A hillock here, a bay there, a tree-top glows with colour and is extinguished. The sea is striped with silver. And the mountains throw off their secrecy and glow with streaks of green and burgundy, melting as they recede into blue on blue on blue on blue.
My footsteps halt – I can’t just keep walking. I throw off my hood. I feel like I should take off my boots, too, and stand barefoot in the muddy pools; for this is a vision of heaven, and the place where I stand is holy ground.