Night Life

I think most about writing, characters I want to follow, stories to be told, whilst I'm drifting towards sleep. Somehow I'm too sleepy to pick up a notebook and pencil to scribble these ideas down, yet awake enough to let my mind wonder and imagine. Every night I tell myself to remember those thoughts for the morning and every morning I wake, eyes blurry, mind befuddled having forgotten I'd had those thoughts at all.


It might have something to do with the fact that I only pick up my books at bedtime; my daytimes being too busy to allow myself time to sit and read. So words are naturally muddling about in my mind and if the book is especially inspiring it fuels my imagination further.


I am still reading The Wild Places, totally enchanted by it in fact. Each night it transports me to mountain tops, deep forests and unforgiving moorland, I feel I am almost there with Robert Macfarlane as he walks, swims and explores.


Last night I was inspired to go for a night walk. Not something I usually do (for those that don't know me, I LOVE my bed and don't normally see the clock strike ten).


I want to experience Bryher slightly differently, connect with it deeper and bank another memory of this magical little island.


Robert Macfarlane writes;


"The astonishment of the night-walker also has to do with the unconverted and limitless nature of the night sky, which in clear weather is given a depth by the stars that far exceeds the depth given to the diurnal sky by clouds. Star-gazing gives us access to order of events, and scales of time and space, which are beyond our capacity to imagine."

So as dusk falls in hues of mauve and chalky blues, I set off with my book and pencil, warm clothes and a small head torch. I am alone, the island feels peaceful and empty.


I slowly walk around the base of Samson Hill, climbing a narrow twisting path to its summit. Like great walls beside me, gorse and undergrowth funnel me upwards. In the fading light the red campions and a small purple flower that I can't name, take on an ultra-violet quality.


Once at the top the view reaches 360° to each of the five inhabited islands and beyond to the Atlantic horizon.




I sit within an ancient cairn, thinking about those souls who may have lain here before me.


I write a little, think a little.


The dusky blue turns to inky blackness, a lone star, pin-pricking the darkness.


I stay a while, listening to the birds that continue to call and echo through the vastness of the night.


As I stare up towards the star I am reminded of what Macfarlane writes, and how small a part of this universe I am.


It feels wrong to still be using the light of my head torch in order to write, a further artificial distraction to seperate me from the natural world around me, and so turn it off.


I sit in darkness. Feeling the cool damp air floating across my skin, absorbing this wonderful moment of aloneness. It makes me think of homelessness and how lucky I am to be able to have somewhere to retreat to for shelter.


Soon the chill starts to seep into bones and joints stiffen and so with the torch back on I head back down the hill to the welcome comfort of a warm bed. Snails are trailing dark tracks across the sandy paths, out and about whilst the hungry thrush sleep.


I reach the farmhouse and as I close the door it's like a vacuum of silence, not the wild silence of nature, but a sealed, cocooned silence. A bit of me wants to return to the night outside but most of me now longs for bed and sleep and warmth.

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