N umb fingers, biting winds
O vercoat buttoned high to the throat
V iolet slanting rays of a dying sun.
E cstasy of brightness, turning to winter dark.
M agnificence rising. A cave of limestone rock.
B itter, monumental cold.
E verlastingly lovely – this
R adiant, primal world.
late winter haiku
clamped against the cold
bird in the bare black branches
Deep winter stillness
Two limbless trees embracing
Sighing for the spring
IT’S BEEN such a long time since I’ve been out of the city: properly out into the wildness of the Yorkshire countryside. The dark wet winter has driven me further and further into small rooms, by warm radiators, under the bed covers, reading, reading; dreaming, dreaming. But enough is enough. I recently decided, whatever the weather, to get OUT every Wednesday. Not into the beautiful local woodland and park that I visit every Thursday – with the dog I look after for the day, the miraculous and cheerful Badger – but properly away from it all. Sea. Rocks. Moors. Wildness, after all, is what Yorkshire does best. So that’s what I did last Wednesday. I drove out to Brimham Rocks, a fabulous cluster of stones – flung from the heavens by some ancient angry god – that cling to the hillsides of North Yorkshire, beyond Harrogate, through villages with suitably horrifying names, such as Bedlam: out in the high,winding, blowy, abandoned beyond. Problem was, it was lashing with rain. The sky was leaden grey. The winds were whipping. The ever narrower roads leading up to the rocks were awash with puddles, which in places were deepening into pools and sloshing from kerb to kerb with unnerving speed and treacherous, indeterminate depth. I have a small car. It’s old. I was the only person (not in a land rover) crazy enough to keep driving up those snaky little lanes – in a downpour that showed no signs at all of abating, and indeed was getting worse, second by second. Still, I made it to the top. Parked the car. Slid around a bit, from rock to rock, astonished by the freezing cut of the rain against my skin, and the sharpness of the winds, that seemed to take my breath and hurl it to the ground, smashing it to pieces, just for sport. I was soaked within minutes. Ran back to the car. Ate a consoling sandwich. And drove back home. One hour there, one hour back. Time on the rocks? Ten minutes tops. But it was worth it. Really it was. Just to remember that other world, the one away from computers and bank accounts and bills and the washing up. The world that will not be mastered. The one the Brontes knew, only too well. The wild world out there. Terrifying. Beautiful. Essential.
deep winter darkness
winds howl – the bare earth deafened
still waves rise like hope
IT HAS BEEN impossible to find adequate words to deal with the atrocities in Paris – and now the UK government’s decision to drop bombs in Syria. But always it is nature that leads me back towards the essentials – and back to a sense of possibility, of stability and peace. Hence this haiku. The wind is whipping around our house right now, and our lights burn against the darkness. The seasons turn. We will see the sun again.
I wrote something recently in the Guardian theatre pages about work done at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, to support refugees in our city. Here is the link – the hand of friendship
Meanwhile, the waves rising gently in the photograph are from the Northumberland coastline. It is the mighty Bamburgh beach in winter time.