Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Wind Like an Atmospheric Razor

The following piece is called 'Climbing Combs Moss in January' and is taken from All About Derbyshire by Edward Bradbury (1884). It describes the moor which stretches far and wide from the top of the escarpment - the view on which I am lucky enough to feast my eyes during the changing seasons from the windows of our house.

We struck across the moor. The north-easter at this altitude shaves one like an atmospheric razor. The long beard and moustaches of the Young Man are being frozen into matted iron; there is ice on the mouthpiece of my pipe; but we perspire with the plunging exercise through the springy heath which we, being lovers of birds and loathers of the battue, protest has all the glow and excitement of grouse shooting without its cruelty. Several grouse rise, but at long distance from us. Once a hare starts from our feet.

But there seems to be an utter suspension of life. The moors are a picture of wild desolation, and a cold lonelineess, that is not altogether without poetic fascination. The black rigour of the frost seems to hold everythging fast in its iron grip. The peaty pools are frozen; there is a great stillness; everything is dead; the prevailing colour is dead; a neutral tint, a shroud of swathing mist, a brooding cold grey that half hides and half reveals. The moors themselves seem to be a vast black sea of raging billows suddenly checked in the height of a storm and held in eternal arrets. The heather, regarded as a mass, is a dark bronzed green-like velvet, and is as attractive to the artistic eye as in its wine-stained purple of full bloom. But taking the individual plant it is withered and dead. ....But if the heather is dead, the bilberry is a bright green, for it is freshest in the depths of winter, and duskiest in the summer; while in the protected clefts and sheltered crevices of the gritstone are beautiful lichens and mosses that are miracles of colour.

Today all is sodden grey without. I am happy to be indoors with music and warmth. Tomorrow snow is forecast again and hopefully the view before me will be transformed once more. What I love about the coming of the snows is that the landscape comes alive again. The blanket of whiteness brings its own energy, its own light and, for me at least, a sense of renewed hope. It is the true heart of winter.

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