“Where clouds form
Lightnings are loosed … …
Stars come and go” –
Clouds are almost essential to the landscape. They create a visual patchwork of sunlight and shadow. They bring depth, form, colour and texture to the hills and valleys. They also settle on the land as mist and, in the mountains especially, they form and dissipate, creating wonderful atmosphere. How wonderful it is to sit high in the mountains enveloped in swirling mist which suddenly opens as a window on the previously hidden world far below, a sparkling world of sunlight; a world apart. Mist and clouds create dramatic lighting and a magical, illusory world, often suddenly appearing without apparent reason, playful wraiths floating amongst the hills. Without clouds, storms, and mist, mountains would be dull, painted cardboard cut-outs.
I have always loved mist, from the time when I was a young boy. Then, the moisture –laden air from off the sea rose up against the hills to condense, ending hot summer days with a blanket of cool, refreshing mist. I loved walking in the landscape then, the known turned into a mysterious land of strange, unrecognisable shadows. I could smell the damp vegetation and earth. Cobwebs became outlined with gleaming droplets. At night, in bed, I would hear the steam trains struggling to climb the steep grade, rails wet with mist. The wheels would slip and shudder on the wet rails and the train would come to a shuddering halt, the fireman would spread sand on the rails and the driver would have another go.
The walker moving through the landscape measures his progress and position against his surroundings. The walker sees the larger view. Mist, however, creates a different world. . Now we have no knowledge of where we are nor can we measure our progress or our position. Our world shrinks to what we can clearly see, often to only a few yards. We travel in a moving bubble of existence. Our own world.
In mist, sounds are muffled and their direction uncertain. The sound of a stream or the song of a bird could be anywhere. Familiar objects become strange, unknown, mysterious grey shadows which loom and fade as we travel or the mist thins and thickens. Occasionally a window opens and we have a tantalising glimpse of a sunlit, sparkling world far below us, as on another planet, before the mist closes in again. Objects we hope to see are not there until they magically materialise, only to vaporise as we pass. In sunlight we can see them approaching and then getting smaller as we move on, giving us certainty, but in mist such guideposts are not there, there is no certainty. We move, but do not move.
In our bubble, our small, clear world moves with us. We now have a different awareness and see and feel what we had ignored before : the world at our feet. We see the trickle of water forming beside the path . We notice the drops of water on the leaves of plants and the richer, clearer colours of vegetation and the earth. On the track we notice the varying colours of the pebbles and stones of the track, richly gleaming in the wetness. Cobwebs become bejewelled necklaces, Drops of moisture collect on grasses, their slight weight in the still air bending them. On the drooping fronds drops of water hang, gleaming starlike in the faint light. Other droplets become tiny inverted mirrors. We now notice more clearly the lichens which seem to have come alive with the moisture and the mosses now a vivid green. Tiny ferns curl from under a rock. Tall trees disappear into the mist as they rise and if you live in my part of the world you will be conscious of the glowing, deep colours of the bark of eucalyptus trees now that they are wet. We also notice the scent of the dampness on rocks, earth and plants. We cross a creek, lined with rocks and grasses and given to still pools. We now notice the extraordinary beauty of this monochrome scene of the immediate surroundings fading into greyness and the perfect reflections on the still water. What little colour there is seems vibrant against the muted greys and the blacks. Everything is so very still: air, mist, water. The world listens.
Suddenly, though, the air seems to vibrate and in a second that ethereal, beautiful and seemingly substantial world of ours is no more. The mist has gone, replaced by brilliant sunshine. Which is more real? Perhaps both are illusions? Are we time travellers?
CLOUDS GIVE FORM, TEXTURE, DEPTH AND COLOUR TO THE LANDSCAPE
CLOUDS FORM, MIST PLAYS WITH LANDSCAPE CREATING HAUNTING BEAUTY, WINDOWS OPEN AND CLOSE, WE STAND IN ONE WORLD AND CATCH
GLIMPSES OF ANOTHER.
A MYSTERIOUS, ETHEREAL WORLD
WHERE THE MIST FORMS A DENSE BLANKET ON THE WORLD, WE MOVE IN A MOVING BUBBLE, AND SEE THE BEAUTY AT OUR FEET