If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
– Raymond Inmon
As I closed the wooden garden wicket, gently, carefully, quietly, I heard St Mary’s bell mark midnight: muffled by distance; but transported gently by the dying gusts, veering lethargically from northerly to westerly. And, as the night’s squabbling furore dissipated temporarily, so did the warmth and the earlier cohorts of cloud: and the rump and tail of omnipresent Ursa Major hung – a perfect, italic, pointillé question-mark – above the ghostly tower, exhorting me onwards. No other sound surpassed that of the indelible breeze apart from the uncanny, sporadic creak of wood – of tree or fence, I cannot be certain. The natural world existed only above me, it seemed.
The heavy iron church gate was also closed: but pivoted quiescently. The edifice itself, although anchored centuries-solid into the earth, illuminated only by the graveyard lanterns, appeared evanescent under the crystalline vault of heaven: as if its rheumy form would retreat from my approach, my touch. And yet, I could have plucked any star easily from its tranquil ambit.
Once away from the inconvenient streetlights – and as my pupils relaxed – more and more constellations seeped into my vision: a wonderful reward for patience and seclusion. But, forlornly, I espied none of the meteors I had so coveted.
In contrast, the horizons above Banbury and Stratford glowed with a deceitful dawn: delineating the familiar contours of the Edge Hills and still-straining boughs, finally stripped of all summer decoration.
As I turned for home, the clock marked the third quadrant of the hour with its repeated song; and the ostensible three pearls of Orion’s belt – Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka – slid effortlessly from behind the returning, blurring, ethereal veil: revealing a resplendent warrior poised for battle with his club of solid bronze. The decaying Betelgeuse thus twinkled orange beneath the raised arm: an ancient jewelled fibula more fiery than paired blue fighter Bellatrix. At Orion’s heels, Canis Major snapped half-heartedly – with Sirius, more eager as his gleaming wet nose – at Lepus, the bounding hare. And, at the least obvious corner of the Winter Triangle, the puppy Procyon straggled behind the hunt: lost in the bluster of night.
Home, the storm and dark retreated behind me, as I locked the door. And yet sleep would not come.
It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.
– Charles Dickens