Loughrigg Tarn, near Ambleside, Cumbria
The air is warm and heavy. In the distance, geese call as the sun starts to sink. The light is soft and golden. The dog lies dozing in the grass, a tennis ball in his mouth. I nudge him and say "come on, then". Without hesitation, he follows me happily, walking into the light of yet another dusk. Over the stile, through a gate and onto the shores of the Tarn.
All is so quiet, so still. The water is like a mirror, reflecting dappled streaks of cloud, tinted gold. A grebe dives silently, then re-appears. Damsel flies, turquoise and blue, dart and dash at the water's edge. In the distance, mountains crowd the horizon, stacked against the orange sky. Trees cast long, soft shadows and even the mundane becomes staggeringly beautiful. It occurs to me, not for the first time, that all of this exists, yet it is plainly not for us. It can neither nourish nor keep us alive in the cold, hard reality of being human. Why should a sunset elevate the senses so? Why does Summer rain, or a waterfall, or a cuckoo calling from the high trees cheer us so much? I don't know: I am merely glad that they do. That some cannot see this is incomprehensible. For others, like myself, it is an unfailing source of joy- and our only reality.
I watch, as minute by minute, the sun sinks and stars begin to appear. My dog decides to go for a swim, causing waves which makes the sky's reflection shimmer and scatter. He has no such thoughts, only that today is a good day to be here, and that tomorrow, he'll do it again. Dogs know what most humans can only grasp the edges of.
Later, we sit beneath the stars, the fire flickering and lighting the pint of beer in my hand. In its amber-red depths, I am reminded of sun on the barley, and nights spent like this, below the same moon and stars. The dog looks at me, then at the stars. I wonder what he is thinking: is it any different to my thoughts? Together we sit in contented silence, and listen to the owls in the woods, the bleating of sheep, the crackle of the fire, and nothing else.
This is priceless.
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