The road is like a skating rink.
It’s been like this for days, since Friday night when it rained in the middle of the night, and the rain froze, and the ice has never shifted yet. There’s not enough traffic on our four mile road into town – not enough traffic to warrant a gritter, not enough traffic to break up the ice, and the road’s in the shadow of the hill at this time of year, and the sun barely reaches it, and the ice can last for days.
It means crawling along at twenty miles an hour, fingers crossed all the way that you’ll not meet anything coming, since there’s barely room for passing traffic, and manoeuvres aren’t advisable.
It means that the winter gets to you.
It means that after a few days you’re getting tired of the ice, and the need to crawl along the road, and the sun not reaching the road to warm it. It means you’re already weary of the winter and its challenges, and tired of the shortness of the days and the darkness of these winter months, sunrise at 8.30am, sunset at 3.45.
This morning as you were driving to work, the boring way round, into town and out again, to reduce the amount of time on the back roads, on the ice, on the skating rinks of unpredictability, as you’re crawling along at twenty miles an hour, and trying to pay attention to the road and what might be coming, this morning –
The sky was streaks of blue and apricot, light dawning on the horizon, sunrise burning orange, it was trees scratching gothic and birds moving hauntingly, it was landscape opening wild, big, huge, cold under this blue cold apricot sky, it was snow on the hills in the distance, and the peak of Queensberry Hill glowing white against blue peach and apricot with the light of the sunrise throwing amber,
And it’s almost too much to take in, this beauty, this wildness, this gorgeousness, as you’re trying to drive, and crawl on ice, and pay attention to the road,
While your heart is crying
And your mind is etching a refrain to match the scratch of trees and gothic branches, scratching over and again, impossible to ignore,
oh god let me worship.
I cannot stop.
It’s too icy, too slippery, if I get out of the car I’ll likely tumble, or get the car stuck, and the time is short because the commute is longer, and so I can’t stop and show you, I can’t open up my aperture, I can’t stand stock still and open the lens to all this beauty, all I can do is a snapshot, a moment, just stop the car and take it through the windscreen, at the edge of the town where the ice is gone, beyond the apricot landscape and the etching of the trees, beyond the birds flying hauntingly, it’s just here at the edge of the industrial estate, inside my car, while I’m at the edge of crawling,
But even then, even if I could have stopped – I’d never manage a photo of that moment, that sky, that vastness, it’s beyond what we can capture.
And even then – even if I could have stopped – it’s only half the story.
The beauty isn’t all.
I know the story’s all of it, warts and all: the ice, the hassle, the darkness, the weariness, the challenge of winter, the twenty miles an hour, the shortness of the day, the dreariness of winter, the need to pay attention to the ice as well as beauty, the harsh unavoidable reality of this skating rink of a road.
And yes, I know.
Not just the road.
Not just this morning, not just the ice, but all of it, all of it.
All the hard stuff, all the things we cannot abide, all the things we cannot fathom, all the pain we cannot handle, all the grief we cannot bear.
All of these mornings.
Still and always confounded: by these moments of blue and apricot skies, sun rising amber, birds soaring gothic and the trees scratching truths.
Still and always confounded.
Oh wow oh wow oh wow.
All of these mornings, still and always.
Let me worship.