the top of ivinghoe beacon. all of england is in view, it feels like. a chill wind bristles from the south somewhere. maybe it passed cornwall or the north downs before causing a wave of horripilation under my pink-shell jacket.
i climbed a chalky escarpment. boot in front of boot, carefully. then, a directional stone offers some idea of which way is which.
north: a lone hawthorne steady against the gusts. beyond – miles of patchworked farmland. a man nearby tells his companion that the faraway spire, so small from here, is the church in their village.
south: a country road, here and there streaked with red and blue cyclists, winds into a copse of trees and away.
east and west: hills, forever.
a windswept jack russell and a westie waggle at a group of daytrippers playing tricks with the wind. if you lean into it, it will hold you up, a dad tells his child. maybe no one is thinking how iron age man came, too, for these views. not to admire them, but use them to keep hold of these lands.
overhead, a 737 – maybe wizz air by the juice-purple stripes on its tail fin – lowers into luton. i pull out a tesco ham and cheese and imagine the time of hill forts. life was short, uncomplicated and dirty. full of stars on frigid nights, and kinds of chafing we cannot imagine now.
if you lean into the wind, it will hold you up.