Although my head felt a little like Trotsky’s must have – or even because my head felt like that… – just before sunup (a little past eight o’clock, this morning), I headed towards Windmill Hill to watch the curtain rise on a new day. I was not to be disappointed.
Frozen into the crusted, sodden ground was evidence of those who went before me: deep tractor tyres (looking like a dinosaur had passed by, wearing wellingtons); sturdy-soled boots; the clawed stamps of walked pets – mixed in with those diamond dog‑prints so familiar around here: perhaps lured by the many rabbits visible in last night’s headlights… – and a bonus trail of crisp cleft deer impressions heading away from the footpath.
Very little sound, though – the odd chattering blue tit, and belligerent robin, against a background of commuting cars – and very little movement: even the fluffed kestrel I passed, highlighted by the first rays, was content just to gaze from its perch on the power-lines.
Eventually, the low, undulant cloud would overwhelm the brightness; sap the colour from the sky – bringing rook calls and repeated pheasant crowing – but my timing was perfect: a hearty, cold breath of pale ice-blue; then a blaze of rose-gold, charming the frosted stalks and leaves, warming my soul.
This may not be alpine Buttermere – here is a different kind of beautiful; a daily delight – but it still embraces me as only home can: the rolling layers of hill, fog, light, tilth and rime, cordial companions; the cereal crunch beneath my feet, affectionate assurance: earthing me in nature… yet again.