The Moon Shadow

Late this afternoon I popped out to get a bag of potatoes. The sun was just setting and both Venus and the Moon were high in an almost cloudless sky. The thought of going back home and simply shutting the door behind me was just too much. As it often is with shopping, a bag of potatoes quickly turned into a bag of various things I’d forgotten we needed. I quickly drove home  and stashed them away in the kitchen. Then I grabbed my wellingtons and headed out again. I’m always up for a torch-lit walk at night but I reckoned that if I hurried up, the light would persist just long enough for a decent walk without one.

I headed up the road to Black Beck Bridge and parked in the rough layby there. I set out across the moor on a Land Rover track that joins the road close by. Not far from the road it fords the beck before climbing steadily up towards Candlehouse Rigg. I’d been there many times but never so late after sunset. The moon was behind me and must have been glowing more brightly than the western horizon ahead of me since, when I looked down at my feet, I saw my shadow stretched out along the track: a moon shadow. I paid no attention to the time but I walked for perhaps a quarter of an hour. Gradually, the hills around me became less distinct as the glow on the horizon faded. When I turned to go back, I looked up and realised that the stars were coming out. Ahead of me on the return journey, in place of dark hills, were distant lights marking the towns and major roads running through the Vale of York. I glanced over my shoulder: my moon shadow was following me.

After a while I arrived back at the beck. At the ford it runs noisily over a bank of pebbles. Upstream of the bank is a still pool. As I stood there, I realised I could see a star reflected in the water. I took out my sound recorder and let it run.

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