The weekend started early… Wednesday afternoon to be precise. I had headed northwards, allowing extra time for the inevitable motorway delays that never happened, so I found myself within 15 minutes of my city destination with an hour or two to spare.
And there was a crossroads….
I knew what lay behind me and what lay ahead…. Left looked like a good option…I couldn’t see very much but that was because the road ran uphill. In that region, I need no further encouragement. Pulling over into a field gate, hoping to get a shot of a little bridge, I found instead a sleepy bee nestled in a terrestrial sun, and a sky that took my breath away.
And still the road headed upwards…and I inevitably followed. I was surprised to find a car-park in the middle of nowhere, it seemed. There had to be a reason for it, so I swung the car in, grabbed the camera and set out to explore. Up a few steps, along a wooded path by a field… then the way opened onto glory and sunlight on stone and heather.
Camera flare? Did I care? Laughing into the wind, a “joyous little goat, leaping on the crags”, as one dear friend put it… She’s right too. About the joyousness… the Pennines get me every time.
I don’t know what it is, whether it is the geology, limestone and millstone grit, the shape of the valleys and crags, the great boulder-strewn hillsides… Maybe it is the colours of the vegetation or the way the clouds come down to play… or something in the air…the quality of the light…
Maybe we are simply attuned to the landscape of home…
It lifts my heart and makes my soul sing, no matter how hard things are, no matter how much I hurt, no matter, even, how happy I am… all other emotion is brushed aside by that surging joy when I stand beneath that sky on those hills.
Over the weekend we were to be blessed with glorious weather and I was to play amongst the stones and the heather, discovering otherworldly landscapes… but I didn’t know that then… all I knew was that moment and that joy.
When the time comes to leave again, as it did early this morning, and I turn southwards for home there is a physical pang of separation as I leave the hills behind. This morning was no exception and the wrench brings tears, every time.
Yet I was treated to the beauty of a dawn over the magical landscape of Albion, before plunging below the mists into a grey and ghostly world. As I drove through the lower lands and cars joined mine on the roads it struck me that they, waking from sleep and setting out on their day’s journey, had not yet seen the sun. They did not know how beautiful it was above the clouds they saw as fog. But I had seen… I had been gifted a privileged glimpse of its delicate beauty.
The sun was already there, is always there, but sometimes, as now, invisible, hidden. Within that colourless landscape, another dawn waited, distant and luminous. Just waiting for the right moment, the right conditions… the right landscape in which to reveal itself. I marvelled at the way that nature mirrors our own lives, all unnoticed most of the time, yet of course it would… we are not separate from nature but part of it… part of the fauna of this beautiful planet and the world around us has so much to teach us if we but look.
Like the bees, chilled by the cooler autumnal air and asleep, seemingly unaware, in the middle of beautiful flowers, we sink into slumber, forgetting the sun’s light simply because it is unseen. In the same way we seem to forget the simple, unfettered joys when the cold mists of worry and the pressures of the mundane world cloud our vision. Joy, too, is always there… a possibility, unseen perhaps… but not unknowable. Sometimes we just have to find the right road….