A folding of the land by mist or moonlight
James McCloud has a strange relationship with mountains. One night, after a chance meeting with a fellow mountaineer, he recounts the experience that changed him, an experience that will turn him into a ghost haunting the mountains he loves.
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I listened, hearing nothing at first. But when I did the hairs rose on my arms. It was the sound of rock and water and the dry rustle of grasses, of wind in trees, wind that had swept through a vast forest – not the patchwork woodlands of the park but the greater, denser forests that lie far to the north, empty, mysterious, and treacherous. It was the sound of wind on rock, on ridges that scar the clouds, in black chimneys of cliffs that reach up into mist and down into shadow. It was the sound of grasslands, of steppe and tundra, where only the cries of geese break the endless whine of the wind. And yet the sound was not only the wind, for at its core was a wordless cry of uttermost wilderness, profoundly lonely, impossibly ancient, yet startlingly familiar. It was the voice of a man, or something other than a man, who loved landscape more than he loved people.
© Barbara Lennox 2005