Late November, the dark peak.
Winter is home again on these high moors,
mewling in with chill-lash days of sleet and gale.
With fellhard testing days of hail obscured horizons and roaring, bed broaching brooks.
The moorlands, in summer sunbaked hard to a dustpuffing footthumping crust, hard as the skin-shredding gritstone;
air filled with skylark song.
Now, now they are become the haunt of ravens.
Now, winter drenched they have become again a crazy patchwork,
a patchwork of dampslick gritstone and foot chilling mud.
The sharp bite of ice,
its grip freezing the mud to iron hardness, the dampslick to glass;
that is yet to come.
With climate change it may not come at all this year.
My body, fresh off the bus, shrugs a familiar desultory shiver. On these fells, bare weeks ago, weather warmed it welcomed the gentle kiss of a cooling breeze. This winter day, warmth barely conserved by swathes of fleece and shell, the intrusively questing tendrils of a nithering east wind find any gap; to chill any sliver of bare skin.
But still, these long beloved rolling seas,
of heather speckled with islands of gritstone all beneath a sheltering sky,
still they call me.
And so, as I have for decades, I respond.
With coldtingle scorched fingers and toes, with wind chapped grin, I run.
And, for a little while, all is well and all manner of things are well.