MoonWalks - marking the cycles

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Posted on January 24, 2021

A day of whites against blues
in this iced silence
each blade of grass
holds the shape               of last night’s wind
below the afternoon moon
the lake is like night pressed into snow
after sun’s sink we walk beneath pearled hills
in the company of moon shadows
and stars
written on Gray Crag while walking above Hayeswater, December 28, 2020 

2020 has triggered so many re-evaluations of time and place, stretching and contracting the edges of both in a series of disruptions, lockdowns, losses and uncertaintes. The moon, however, keeps us on track as it waxes and wanes. To take time to witness its rise is also to take time to rest and reflect, to think about darkness in a different light, and to get a sense of the landscape's night-time existence: something that's all too easily missed from inside a house. 
Knowing how much we love the transition times of dusk and dawn, and the special quality of night-time light, we've decided to begin a year-long series of MoonWalks. We'll be taking ourselves outside - both onto the high ground and through woodlands and valleys - and turning our gaze and thoughts to the moon, evey month between the winter equinoxes of 2020 and 2021.

So it was that at the end of December 2020, before we turned our minds to a new year and when the felltops were coated in snow, we relished the chance to be up high. Our first walk took us from Hartsop to The Knott, skirting around the northern rim of Hayeswater. From the Knott, we traced the broad back of white land to High Street, and continued round to Thornthwaite Beacon and down the ridge of Gray Crag. We lingered. By the time the moon appeared in the east we were the last people out in the white land - our only visible company was a small herd of red deer scampering through the snow below us. We skitted down the steep fellside in the gloaming and then, thanks to the full moon, the night became increasingly bright. We turned west, heading down into the valley, our own dark shadows leading us towards the moonwhite river. 

Two days later, we felt drawn outside again, so set out early in the afternoon to head up to Pike of Blisco in the Langdale Valley. It seems like a simple thing, to go for a walk, to watch day turn to night. But to say this is a simple pleasure is to play it down. To share the iced peak of a fell with ravens and stand still as the moon climbs above the eastern horizon is a rich and deep pleasure with many dimensions: it leaves body and soul with far more than memories. Each experience like this is formative, is life affirming, feels like a health-giving gift. We always feel immensely lucky to be able to do this.
days like this are almost beyond words
the view hushes thought           asks for us to simply be
we are audience to waterfalls
to shades of black and white
the stone-clatter echo of ravens
and the last of the golden light
when the sun passes in the west
we are chilled in a bitter wind
breathing in greys
in the east        a peach sky fades to blue
the moon eases over white fells
then claims its place
to light the long cold night
written on Pike of Blisco, December 30, 2020
We walked down as the sky darkened, picking our way between iced boulders and soft snow, stopping now and then to switch off our headtorches and be still, just to take it all in. The sound of water in the becks, the distant dogs barking in the valley, the lights of scattered farmhouses, the dots of lights where other walkers were coming off the tops.
Above us the Plough’s handle pointed towards the Langdale Pikes. The constellation slowly shifted, making its own apparent journey across our night sky, as it does every night, as we keep spinning. We all keep spinning.

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