A Winter’s Tale

3 Dec

Nr Atherstone (2)Another night in the van – although I have a whole host of invites from people to stay, it feels important, somehow, to give myself space to be myself.. perhaps it’s been so long on the road that I need that independence, that looseness of commitment.

Tonight, the moon hangs low in the sky, framed by the branches of a wind swept tree, a skeleton of branches where only a few short weeks before the vibrant colours of autumn had drifted gently and softly to the ground. The moon itself is an icy cold shard of frosty white – gone is the warmth of the harvest moon, to be replaced by a crescent that gazes down with cold accusation, threatening to reveal hidden secrets in its dim illumination. Its counterpoint is a dark blanket of sky, not yet black yet scattered with the dim pinpoints of light from galaxies that are light years away – light that has fought its way through forbidding space to reach me. Tonight, the stars hold the promise that the moon refuses to bring – the promise of success against overwhelming odds, the certainty that even across impossible distances, light will always be light, and will always find its place, and the certainty that even if I was the only observer, that light would have still found its target.

Nr Atherstone (1)The sky itself is framed with the murky orange flare from a thousand streetlights, the warmth of the sodium flare muddied by the Black Country air as its light stumbles upward, only to finally fade away as it finally and inevitably loses the battle with nature’s overpowering darkness. The sky is beautiful tonight, and its savage chilly beauty wraps the fields and hedgerows in inky blackness. Yet strangely that blackness casts shadows that throw the details of the landscape into sharp relief – silhouettes that the brief blaze of a car’s headlights can only briefly wash with light before the darkness recovers its grip on the hills and bushes, the coppices and woodland scrub that pockmark the grasslands.

Steaming mug of coffee in hand, and beanie firmly on my head, I snuggle deeper into the sleeping bag as I read, looking up from time to time as the headlights of a passing car wash over Bessie and briefly light up the van – as the slipstream of the passing car rocks the van, as if attempting to lull me to sleep, and as the tail lights disappear into the distance as echoes of a brief moonlit encounter. More precious are the moments when I look up into a sky that seems only to echo promise and opportunity, and that glitters with a billion miracles that simply whisper ‘Believe’.

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