Weather Music

On Sunday the warm front had moved in, occupied the comfiest armchair – the one that the cat is always eyeing up, taken charge of the remote control and eaten all of the chocolate digestives. We all suffer from unwelcome house guests of this sort from time to time – dropping hints of the ‘Oh is that the time? I have so much to do!’ variety are to no avail.

In between exciting things like catching up on the ironing and failing to stop the smoke alarm from beeping at the ear-piercing limit of human hearing every two minutes, I escaped for half an hour for a brisk outing to the Pepper Pot. Faced with louring grey skies and persistent drizzle, I decided to leave the camera at home, put my hood up, my hands deep into my pockets and enjoy a head-down stomp. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t engrossed in looking for photo opportunities, but it was the sounds of the walk that I enjoyed. A gusting wind was shaking the trees and it was the music of that wind in the trees that first struck me. A blanket sussuration provided the undertone, it’s probably a cliche to say that it sounded like waves on a shingle beach, but whilst it shared the timbre of that familiar sound it didn’t have the rhythm, the ebb and flow of waves – perhaps what those sounds have in common is the music of friction, the accumulation of thousands of individual pebbles rattling or branches shaking. Every so often a gust would tear through the tree-tops overhead producing a sudden crescendo, a roar, a note of elemental power. And on the downside of those breakers, the squeak and grind of tree-trunks dragged across each other.

Loving being out in this wild weather, I was also enjoying my own internal weather music. Taking the most direct route up the hill, my pulse quickening, breathing hard, but without my breath become ragged or laboured, without needing to stop for rests. This short walk to the Pepper Pot has become something of a test piece for me. This time I reached the top of the hill 15 minutes from the house. Whilst not particularly, fast this is good for me – just long enough after an iron infusion to really feel the benefit, it was good to feel, if not exactly fit, then at least fitter than usual.

Taking a more circuitous route home again, I flicked off my hood at the unmistakable ronk of a raven. Glancing upwards it took me a few seconds to find it – already in a different part of the sky than its cry had led me to expect. It skated sideways with the wind, crossing the grey sky at great speed and almost immediately disappearing again. But my spirits were lifted and soared with that bird. What a privilege to be here, in these woods, in this wild wind, sharing this moment with this the wildest of birds.

A real escape from the quotidian.


I (re)read a few poems by Robert Frost today, and reading this poem was taken back to that moment on Sunday.

Happiness Makes Up in Height What it Lacks in Length

O stormy, stormy world,
The days you were not swirled
Around with mist and cloud,
Or wrapped as in a shroud,
And the sun’s brilliant ball
Was not in part or all
Obscured from mortal view—
Were days so very few
I can but wonder whence
I get the lasting sense
Of so much warmth and light.
If my mistrust is right
It may be altogether
From one day’s perfect weather,
When starting clear at dawn
The day swept clearly on
To finish clear at eve.
I verily believe
My fair impression may
Be all from that one day
No shadow crossed but ours
As through its blazing flowers
We went from house to wood
For change of solitude. setstats 1

(I realise that storm and wild weather is standing in here for the very opposite of happiness, but it’s the fleeting nature but long lasting impression of that happiness which struck a chord – to be honest, the title alone makes me smile.)

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Weather Music

5 thoughts on “Weather Music

  1. beatingthebounds says:

    Thanks Ron – I didn’t know that. In ‘Birches’ Frost writes about climbing birches as a boy so that the trees would bend down to the ground, and then using them to launch into the air.

  2. fatdogwalks says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post Mark. I expect most hillwalkers have their pet hill for a quick blast to see what condition they’re in, or not, as the case may be.

    Mine is a hill called The Law in the Ochils which is probably the closest hill (20 minute drive) to me over 600m.
    It’s not a monster but climbs steadily from almost sea level (I think there’s a shot of the summit in my Ben Cleuch Gallery)but it’s a real killer if you’re out of condition – a great barometer of physical wellbeing. Did it in December and remember being half way up and being passed by fell runners. Stopped and thought – “Why am I here?” – Still waiting for the answer!

  3. beatingthebounds says:

    Hi Abe,
    Thanks – I am interested – I popped over and very much enjoyed what I read. I tried to leave a comment, but couldn’t, sorry.

    Ken
    600m! That’s a proper hill – Castlebarrow doesn’t qualify for a spot height, but it’s about 80m (hence 15 minutes from the front door). It makes up in width for what it lacks in height though! I don’t know the Ochils well at all, although we did holiday near Auchterarder (forgive my spelling) a couple of times. I shall check out your Ben Cleuch Gallery.
    You’ve got me thinking though – what is the nearest 600m hill to home? Ingleborough’s not too far, but then there’s the Bowland Fells, the hills around Bullpot Farm and Ease Gill, the Middleton Fells…..hmmm

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