We have driven here on the advice of last night’s taxi driver. A disembodied voice and a face that I never saw, but gave money too willingly. Full of good food and the bon homie that comes with wondering around the new - sating a built up wanderlust, oh, and a good bottle of wine, we take on board the authenticity of the local, and set out to see what we will see. Past beach and pathway, past new technology park and old nuclear power station, past village and valley we drive. And then we stop.
The mountain raises up, looming over the lake that ripples with the waves of the wind. The dark swathes of the slopes cut lines down to the water. Sharp and burnt there is another world that exists on the far shore - a world that cannot be accessed, a world that seems alien from the bank I stand on. A scorched earth crafted from rock slides. I find myself back in my A-levels, watching the lines of Wordsworth solidify around me: “Foster’d alive by beauty and by fear”. There in front of me is the fear, and it is beautiful.
I sketch. Semi-island rocks, craggy and etched into the paper, trying to bring out each nook and cranny. Mosses cling defiantly in the midst of water - almost hydrophobic. Behind the vast rock face other mountains look down. These are higher, but their slopes are more hospitable, fields and habitations dotted on the lower reaches. My pen moves quicker, sparse lines that signify such massive spaces, hatching that gives the burn its crust, dots of tree and bush.
Waves lap, the aggression of the wind building, splashes breaking over the stepping stones and rocks on which children dance. My pen scribbles, trying to catch the water on my page - a colander, which sees the ripples trickle away and my pen dot and dash in a mad if futile attempt to catch them. But, like Canute I continue, each line working over the other trying to freeze time in a model of instinct.
I stop. That is as much as I can catch. The moment in fragments, the awe and splendour in snatches. I have caught the genesis of a memory if not the memory in full. My eyes have looked deeper than a glance, my mind has travelled further paths than my feet could manage. I am spent, and happy.