Sunday, 30 November 2014

Darkness

find myself back on Hopton Titterhill in Shropshire on a late November night. It feels uncharacteristicly warm with a soft gentle breeze and there is no need for a coat. It is dry, but misty and overcast. I have been up here on moonlit nights and seen the landscape for miles around me but tonight it feels quite different. There is a heavy silence amongst the trees apart from a slight murmur of the conifers. I have to make a phone call and I almost feel ashamed to be speaking out loud. I am so conscious of every sound I make and so speak in a soft voice almost as if I don't want anyone to hear me and yet there are no people around to listen in. I go on a short walk and almost feel deafened by my munching on a chocolate digestive biscuit. It becomes all I can hear and I horridly finish my snack so that I can be aware of the subtleties of my surroundings. I venture along a track and out into a field. I had been planning to go for a longish night walk all week but, now I am here, the darkness forms an almost impenetrable blanket and I somehow don't feel confident to safely walk very far - and I haven't got a torch. Why? Well it feels wrong to use one when there is natural light at night; it pushes the night-time experience into the shadows and also immediately announces where I am to anyone for miles around.

I stand in the field and look around me. All the trees and hedgerow vegetation are just a solid, indefinable matt black. The sky, track and field are just a subtle shade lighter. It is almost impossible to make out and define any objects right in front of me and I have to feel my way over a gate and fence. We always seem to want to push darkness out of our lives and, when it is present, fill it with uncertainty, story, fantasy and fear. My mind is full of past images from films and tv and I have to try and reassign these thoughts to the back of my mind and readjust to being in a landscape that is exactly the same as it is during the light of day but just has the absence of light. We take night and day for granted but here I just want to experience and appreciate the difference that, out here, isn't defined by man-made time-keeping and calendars but is a natural phenomena that our planet experiences.

Owls hoot and screech in the woods. I always seem to hear them here. An occasional aeroplane rumbles far above me but otherwise it does feel awfully quiet.


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