The map

The map on the shelf was new. It cracked like a distant storm as I pealed it open and smoothed it out on the hard floor, a seductive letter of possible adventures. I take a moment to picture it’s contours shifting, hilltops and valleys finding form. Rivers begin to flow and roads harden against the landscape forming in my mind. My attention always pulls away from the structures and habitation and instead begins to follow paths out into the empty spaces. It traces them up through concentrating lines through the black angular evidence of crags and cliffs. Out onto the lighter open plateaus and mountain tops. I can feel the wind flowing in the pale gaps between the mess of lines as the paths follow ridges and moorsides, the patches of water.  The tarns and the lakes are deceptively uniform and unmoving, offering oasis amongst the detail of track and fence, rock and tree. Tiny triangles and numbers tempt the eye with challenge and vista. It’s these that draw the heart, they are the objective, they call. The lengths that cut the contours heading for these pictorial summits string together, they offer opportunity but at the same time they only show where others have already been. Before long a trip is planned, a starting place, a top to reach. But that’s all the map can show. As the map is folded back up and stowed, the journey can begin to unfold.

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