Thursday, 19 September 2013

Thoughts on Walking on a Moonlight Night, and a Rainy Morrow - What A Difference The Day Makes

The other night, my walk was after dinner, rather than before, an experiment with inculcating tiredness in the interest of sleeping when normal people do it. It was coldish (at least if you wear shorts and sandals until November, saying recklessly "oh, legs don't get cold"), and wet, but in between the clouds there was a strong moon, and it wasn't dark. The familiar paths, in the dark, became strange. I knew where they were, but the colour had gone, the view, the perspective. Well, of course it had, it was dark. But slightly more than that. My barleyfield, the last one to be harvested, was standing, just stubble now, under the moon, and shimmering in a way it had done in the daylight under the sun, but then golden, and flagrant, and honest, and now silver, and shifting, and alluring. Obviously, being a pious Christian parson, I don't believe in horoscopes and the Zodiac and all that voodoo. But they say persons born in the bit of July I was are affected by the moon, and by silver. So the fact that when I see the moon I can stand transfixed by it for ages, and that I've always adored silver in coins, and cutlery and walking-stick handles, is purely coincidental. I think there are things one might do for silver one would never do for gold. Or maybe that's just me.

But changed it was, in the moonlight, eerily so, changed into the world of the creatures I never see on my daytime walks, a world much more full of life than the daylight one I live in. And the next day, all was changed again. More rain - no direct light this time from sun or moon, just overcast grey cloud. And changed again, this time by the plough, or rather, the ploughshares on the back of a huge tractor. I had noticed lines marked in the field the day before, about two feet across, and couldn't fathom what they were about. And when the farmer is not goading his shire horses along, but sitting nine feet above you in an air-conditioned chamber, wearing headphones, you can't exactly stop him to find out the why and the wherefore.

So the glistening, mysterious, silver of the night before was quite literally turned over to mud. Beautiful mud too, in its own way. Honest, and in the now-old-fashioned sense, literally earthy. Ready to become something new, a new harvest. A different kind of mystery.

What a difference the day makes.

Richard Haggis
Barton-upon-Bayswater, Oxford
September 2013

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