Saturday morning we were up on the moor to greet the dawn. It was apparent that we were going to be doing so symbolically this time. There would be no golden orb rising in the east that we could see through the heavy cloud that enveloped the hilltops. Nonetheless, the moors take on a timeless mystery in such weather that only enhances the beauty of their spirit, even though the visual glory is veiled.
We are given the weather we need; this weekend, after all, was all about the parallels we can draw from the world around us and the enshrouding mist is a rich source of such understanding. How often are the true gifts of life hidden within seemingly unpleasant situations? How often is beauty clouded by a lack of perception? We could have simply decided not to climb the sodden, chilly hillside before breakfast and remained instead in our nice, cosy hotel, knowing there would be no visible dawn, yet had we done so we would have lost the opportunity of knowing an unusual, ethereal beauty, not seen the shifting shapes of rock and tree, nor the heightened colour of autumnal foliage varnished with dew.
We could not have felt the silent morning unfold, or seen the barely perceptible shift as the hidden sun rose above the fog, turning the world opalescent, luminous and ageless. The surface world was a place, it seemed, from which to retreat under the covers, snuggled in the familiar warmth of a bed or watched through the protective panes of a window. The drenching mist was not inviting, held few enticements… and yet, the reward for stepping into the unknown of the shrouded moor was beauty.
Dew-heavy spiderwebs stretch out across the heather like the tents of a fairy encampment or sheets hung out to dry, sparking imagination and whimsy as we pass. The heather itself seems a microcosmic forest with its woody stems and flower heavy canopies. The rocks deepen from a uniform grey to blues and reds, the minerals highlighted by the moisture. Shapes are revealed that you would miss at any other time as the familiar becomes unfamiliar and you see it in a new light, silhouetted against a new, stark background.
The last time my companion and I had spent time on the moors we had been drawn to a cluster of apparently random rocks, ‘erratics’, we assumed, left there by the shifting glaciers of the Ice Age. There was undoubtedly something special about the place and a little bird told us so, flying up and down for our delight before coming to rest mere feet away and watching us as we sat amongst the stones. We had revisited the spot before the arrival of our companions the previous day, speculating on their use and nature, whether the great stones had been deliberately placed or simply used and we had seen in the ashes of loss that these same rocks spoke also to others in a similar voice.
You just never know what lies hidden beyond the edge of sight. Nor can we always see how we blind ourselves to the obvious by the focal length of our perception or the background against which we choose to see our world. Certainly on Saturday we would have chosen clear skies, light and colour over the all-pervading grey. Yet, as we returned to the hotel for breakfast my friend pointed out the rocks and shared our ideas with our companions. I turned and looking back, finally saw what it was that drew us. I did not have to explain… the startled expletive as I raised the camera was all that was needed for him to see in the mist what we had missed in the sunlight. Changing the familiar perspective had shown us greater clarity in the ghostly monochrome than any golden morning could have offered and out perception of that corner of the moors now lives in a different way. The ‘misty, moisty morning’ had revealed what the clear light of day had hidden, and the guardian, a silent sleeper, once seen now stands out among the rocks for us in a way we will not forget.