Walking to Little Asby Hawthorn, December 20 2015
It somehow takes skin longer to dry out when it’s windy. I have taken shelter in the lee of a wall. Wind is being funnelled over the top in a whip-whorl of force. On the tarn below, the water is racing in waves and has engulfed all the land that was Marsh in the summer. The reeds are leaning eastwards with the wind at their backs, their heads nodding furiously with a hundred individual rhythms, like birds pecking.
When the rain comes past in gusts it is cold, feels icy – although this is strange as it has been so unseasonably warm recently. There are no birds to be heard. Maybe the wind is out-noising them but more likely they are taking shelter. I have only seen two swans. They were swimming on the opposite shore when we arrived and they too have disappeared now, out of this fierce wind.
On the exposed top of Little Asby Common, where limestone juts out like old bones, I have to keep stopping to take shelter, to stop myself from being blown over. I fight my way in between gusts of wind to the base of the Hawthorn. Its trunk is gloriously solid and still, and parts of the gnarled bark are dry. I rest my hand on them. I crouch down into the crevices between limestone slabs to gather my thoughts, and write in my notebook. Beside me are small gatherings of tiny bones. What is it, I wonder, who hides them here?
When we leave the ridge and walk back down to the road, it seems that the sheets of hail leave too. Above us, now that the rain has passed, blue sky and white clouds.