A weekend in the Peak District, craving the hills and the wild air. My heart is happiest, there. The moment I step from the train into that rinsed light, I am lifted. And especially so this last trip, with snow whitening the hills like a gift. We wore woollen hats and walking boots, and climbed to the sky. Up the cold slopes of Mam Tor, past the cows and dreadlocked sheep, past the cheery hikers with walking sticks and pink cheeks.
What a feeling, breasting that last rise. The whole world underfoot. Cold white miles of it, beautiful, blinding. The air as clear and thin as a whistled note. The full bowl of the valley brimming with light.
Never, out there, the dazzled nerves. Never the ditching heart. Only calm, and open spaces. Only wide skies, and quiet, and grace.
Mam Tor holds an extra sweetness for me. I wrote a poem there last year, and it won me my first major prize. There is magic there: I feel it in my bones, the way a water dowser feels the hum of water in his wrists.
The remains of an Iron Age fort in the grass at the top. Take a moment to imagine it. The centuries stilled and kept underfoot. Tell me that doesn't make your heart beat like a butterfly, fast and bright. All those sunk bones in loam, wrecked ships beached in earth. The wild red hair of those buried daughters, winding towards our ankles like weeds. The lost arrowheads, the bowls of rust.
The things I have learned from those high wild hills. To trust in my body, to tend to my mind.
What is it for, this life? I want to live with clarity. I want to be kindled, to be kind. And I feel it out there, like a thumb on a map: my part, my place. Like a flame that has guttered and whispered almost-out, and then been cupped back to a leaping flash.
I am burning, I am burning. I am finding my purpose, I am finding my way.