My love lies sleeping beside me.

This morning we hiked up onto the moors and have settled by the source of a stream which comes chattering and spluttering from the hillside, throwing out tiny rainbows into the warm afternoon sun. When we happened upon the stream earlier on our walk, it flowed gently through loops and turns, tinted a warm, rusty orange by the peaty soil and the innumerable minerals embedded within the earth. Up here, it is as clear as fine crystal, and apart from the cry of an occasional bird which reaches across the moors, its playful song is the the only sound to be heard.

When we first arrived at the source, we stripped off our shoes and socks and paddled in the water, giggling and shrieking as the chill waters lapped around our calves. The small pebbles beneath our feet were worn into coppery discs, looking like a pirate’s treasure trove which we were the first to discover. As the cold began to turn our feet various shades of grey and blue, we moved to the bank, and began to dry out, sitting on a warm slab of rock which thrust  from  the mossy ground.

My love has fallen asleep, and I am sat beside them, gathering in the moorland view which stretches away before me, a patchwork of greens, browns, and more subtle shades where patches of heather and lichen sit. An occasional small cloud sails across the deep blue sky, going about its own business and casting a shadow which races over the scenery into the distance. The view is untainted by any indication of civilisation, save for a few ramshackle dry-stone walls, long since abandoned and now being reclaimed by the grasses and low shrubs of the moorland. Admittedly, it gives a false sense of isolation, as behind us, over the crest of the hill, the village where we started our walk is visible, a cluster of yellow-brown structures with slate roofs nestled into the crook of a shallow valley. From that village a grey road snakes through the foothills, leading towards the lowlands, and eventually larger settlements.

My perspective allows me to forget that they are there, to forget that I live on a crowded little island of busy people going about their daily routines. I can allow myself to be oblivious of them, and breathe in the unspoiled air, hear only the gentle laughter of the stream and take in the unspoiled view through eyes squinted against the sun. Looking upward and outward, my line of sight is uninterrupted for how far? Millions of miles? Tens of millions of light years? It is impossible to tell.

Levering myself up from our rocky shelf, I leave my love sleeping peacefully and walk a few metres away, the soft cushion of mosses a dense and slightly moist carpet beneath my feet. On the ground, a whitened branch lies against a hummock of grass, the bone of an unidentified dinosaur which may have breathed its last on this exposed hillside. I don’t know how such a branch found its way up here, where no trees grow, but I pick it up and weigh it in my hands. It is light, straight and smooth. Perhaps it was carried here by a dog who accompanied some previous walkers, who got bored of chasing and fetching it, or found something more stimulating to occupy its mind. It is about one metre in length and tapers at one end.

I place the tip of the branch into the earth beneath me, and press down gently. it sinks a few centimetres into the damp spongy ground before finding resistance. I begin to walk round the branch, holding the end of it with my hand and describing a circle upon the organic carpet with my feet. I close my eyes and picture the circles which I am creating. My movements are represented by a purple line. As the earth spins upon its axis, it creates a green line which spirals beneath my own. Superimposed over that is a blue line, the moon, which makes its steady procession round the planet, creating yet another spiral. Beneath all these lines I see the course of the sun, plotted in yellow, as it too revolves in space and follows its predefined course about our galaxy. The galaxy too adds its own line, a translucent white, as it follows its circular vortex through the void, and it is joined by all the other galaxies, all spiralling away, all around me. In the centre of this incomprehensibly huge diagramof coloured lines am I, the first and smallest spiral.

The branch snaps, a loud brittle retort as it gives beneath my weight, and I tumble to the ground, disoriented and dizzy, thankful that my landing is cushioned by the soft moss. Hearing the disturbance, my love awakes, and smiling up at me says “You think too much.”

I laugh and reply “I know.”

                                                                                   …. ses x