Nature Nonfiction

LIGHT AND WATER

Driving a bus on one of Britain’s most scenic routes affords me a great opportunity to see how the landscape is changed by the weather. I am privileged to see the earth’s mood swinging from peace to fury, always in balance. The land looks different every day. 

Some mornings there is a moody greyness and an opaque shroud of mist hangs over the distances. This invokes within me a sense of claustrophobic intimacy. Sound does not travel far through this environment, and neither does light. The country itself casts a spell of introspection. I am compelled to perceive myself as the centre of the fog.

Other mornings the landscape is changed beyond recognition. The sun – not yet quite risen – backlights the hill across the water. Its almost tasteless in its beauty, like a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leaflet depiction of Eden. Pastel coral light crowns Conival and fades into the rich blue that seems to barely conceal the boundlessness of space. These colours are achieved by the sun’s light, at a low angle in the sky, passing through more of the Earth’s atmosphere than it does at midday. The photons are scattered and hindered, and only some of them reach our eyes; the reds, pinks, oranges and yellows. It is an environment which rouses the sense of the horizon, and the incomprehensible vastness beyond.

Some mornings the mist is rising from the lochs and peat bogs. Fledgling clouds leaving the nest, only to fall that afternoon as short bursts of heavy rain from a rupture in the clouds. The crisp morning light sometimes catches these vapours and gives them a fleeting silver hue as they ascend. These appear like wraiths, or wisps of my own soul being absorbed into the sky.

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