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Curiosity

The clouds have gone completely and the sky is deep blue above a haze. Everything is fresh, but soft, and I feel like I’m on an island in an empty sea of blue. 
But then I see something, off to the left. The turf slopes away there, dropping down to a hollow, and above its edge I can see branches. A little wood of twisted oaks, bark worn silver by wind and sun, and leading into it, a path, like a channel in the peat, studded with smooth white stones. The branches arch over it, and inside the light is warm and green.

I pause for a moment, soft wind in my hair. Then I start down the path, drawn by the thrill of woods and caves and holes unexplored. 

A bed, a roof, a fire c

I wander out across the clifftop, the clouds now melting into curls of steam, the rough grass glowing in the sun. I can see the Road below me, curling round the bases of the cliffs. It smiles at me, not hurrying or harrying. It knows I will find my way back in time.

As the last of the cloud scoots over the edge and vanishes, I see the sheep again. They are still now, some lying, some standing, basking in the warmth. A ewe with two lambs eyes me, her strange eyes unreadable in her mottled face. The lambs’ tails are wagging as they suckle, their neat new fleeces as white as the clouds. I’m so busy watching them I don’t notice a pit opening in front of my feet, and I nearly fall, stopping barely in time.

It’s round, rimmed with grass. At first I think it’s just a hollow in the rock, but then I see stones, undressed but neatly laid, lining its walls.  The floor is humped and mounded and covered with grass. A sheep-pen, perhaps? An ancient sheep-pen, buried in the earth. But then I notice a stone-walled box in the corner, a stone shelf beside it. And in the centre, part-covered by a mount of grassy earth, a few flagstones, and the corner of a shallow pit, carefully lined.  A bed. A table. A fireplace. Someone lived here, countless lost years ago. Hundreds? Thousands? I wonder if there were sheep then, or goats. Perhaps a shepherd lived here, minding his flock on the high pasture. The grassy mounds, perhaps the remains of the roof, carefully built and long since fallen.

I wonder if the view has changed. If the seas have risen, or fallen. If the clifftop was bare as it is now, or if this hut was in a forest. I wonder if the Road passed below, as it does today. Easily formed and changeable, that’s how roads and paths appear, but all the same, they can be ancient, older than we can possibly know. All it takes is for feet to be walking, following that road, year by year, generation by generation, and though history is lost and tales are forgotten, the Road goes on.

I sit in the grassy house for a while, enjoying a respite from the wind, and thinking of its builder. Sitting in someone’s home can bring you close, though many lost years may lie between.