Sunday, 1 February 2009

The turning world

Foothills of the French Pyrenees, late December. Early morning, sun’s radiant ball peeks shyly over world’s horizon to kiss the earth hello. Gentle curve of cornfield, chill, dun-coloured, dormant, imperceptibly transfigured to golden hue by breath of warm life. My shadow forms from thin air, tall field sentinel.

Midday. Southern European latitude. Sun higher in the sky. Noon light heavy, flat, oppressive... Then towards day’s farewell, shadows lengthen, colours deepen, landscape is reclothed with intrigue, enticement. Distant rose-tipped peaks kiss the eye and awaken longing. Lilac cut-out mountain chain: outline of peak against sky, stark and jagged, a fairytale battlement, a playground for the children of giants.

Tea time, and a scene change, imperceptible and huge, on nature’s stage. Garish loud sun has sunk to slumber. Night: sleight of hand, thick, black, felt. Safe, daytime rhythms and murmurings cease… a vast hush. Chill cavern of darkness pricks nocturnal denizens to twitchy, saucer-eyed alertness. A fox‘s screechy bark. Owl‘s ghost call, warm, wise. From another world, preternatural, comforting: an echoing tunnel of ‘o’s, smoke rings of sound.

Stars. Beauty unimpeded by urban glare. Churning, boiling, nuclear engines hurtling through space; but to the human eye, winking, beckoning friends. Their array familiar and unchanging, across aeons. Mythic constellations, vast epistles delicately suspended. Eye rests, mind expands and contemplates. Earth, this sapphire gem, this wilting greenhouse: a speck of cosmic dust spinning in vast immensities. What ineffable power, what deep wisdom, holds together these two universes, starry vault and human mind, in this communion of awe?