Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Mountains and Marvels
Saturday morning some visitors arrived with the snow. The wind wailed in sideways, the night fell clattering upon us, and we cackled and brewed up some dinner. The evening produced a kitchen of vapours and rain lashing the windows, a table crowded with dishes.
The next morning we took ourselves up into the hills, to a stone church with bright blue doors. No one saw us come and no one saw us go, but we found a stone circle tucked away in that churchyard. A recumbent stone lay beside the grave stones, unable to overlook the hillside for the trees. I stood still for a second to imagine a winter's night, the moon rolling slowly across the sleeping stone's back, from one side to the other. I tried imagining quickly the long, slow hours of watching its creeping stillness, like sleeping.
But then we were off, throwing ourselves into the snow covered day and the narrow, winding roads. We stopped and crept through an old souterrain at one point. It was almost invisible at first, and then we saw a little arrow and almost right next to us there was a hole, a little square door that went straight into the earth. We bent ourselves and crouched until we passed through into a room where we could almost stand in the pitch black, wondering what might sit invisibly just beside us, almost touching us as we stared without seeing.
But it was not long before our eyes met with a marvel...
...A castle that seemed like it had just come to a stop on a hill of fresh snow. I just couldn't quite believe that it had been standing there for long. It seemed like, unwatched, it could slide across vast spaces like a chess piece, or something from Kin-Dza-Dza, or maybe it could grow up the side of an icon and be carried around in someone's bag.
Here it is on a visit to a more humble castle.
And then, this is it on its way to meet with an even taller Sequoia, which had, itself, travelled a long way in its youth, before settling in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland.
This fine tree was kind enough to grant my wish of two weeks ago, of mountains and giant landscapes. I shrank to a whisper beside it.
And the next thing I will show you is whisper-like as well. In the snow that blew horizontally across the ground, in the deafening wind that choked and pushed us, on a string of a road that clung to the side of a mountain, we came across them. Perhaps thirty or more.
They only stopped and watched us, they did not hurry away.
I am sure there were sounds then, but I remember only that a great hush fell on everything.
There would be no need to run, for creatures that can make time stop.
They just stood still as the bare trees, catching my heartstrings in their antlers.
And then, their spell cast, we turned away from our otherworldly meeting and back towards home, only stopping to peek through the gates and wild hedges of another castle or three.