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Wonder

The branches close over my head, replacing clear sky with a pattern of fragments. The wind still penetrates, but it’s slowed and warmed, sweetened by the shade and the scent of the ferns. The sun still feels bright in here, the shade doesn’t hide it, but accentuates it, and the fragments of brightness seem brighter by contrast. It’s like being in a birdcage, ornamented with fluttering leaves. 
Further in, the light fails further, though sparks of sun still dance on the trunks. The roots of the trees grip deep into the peat and the path cuts a gully between them. The trees are barely ten feet tall. I have to stoop under their branches, following the path onwards into the deepening shade

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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.

Burning spring c

Spring suddenly kindles, from nowhere, from the bitter Northerly wind. Bright sparks of daffodils spring up and blaze, green flames spurt from every twig, and the warmth of life, it seems, forces the year to turn. The wind revolves, warmth rolls from the South, the sky is white in the West and winter is over, even as the snow still lingers on the hills. The grass is growing. The air is moving. Everything is changing.

Just wondering – should I stay longer? It’s cold here on the cliff. The whiteness is enchanting but the danger makes me prickle. I know the edge is very close.

I start to inch back towards the path, but then I’m confused. Which way?

I stop, fearful of taking a step in any direction. The flowing mist suddenly seems hostile. This place is not for me. I feel the fear rise.

Then… a sudden surprise.

The white cloud parts.

And I can see forever.

Depth below me, beyond my understanding; the edge is close at my feet, so close I feel I’m floating in the empty air. There is no flatness about this scene, no sense of a picture in a frame. This is the world in all its solidity and its emptiness, and it is vast.

And then the sea, the floor of the world, just clear enough that I can see the rocks beneath it, the hint of yet more and more depth; and then it is cloaked in silver-blue, sweeping away, away, away to meet the sky.

To the boundary, veiled with the merest haze of blue.

To the islands.

To forever.