What are Men to Rocks and Mountains?

What are men compared to rocks and mountains? (Or carriages that work?) Even, or should I say especially, in the rain.

One forgets, when living in a magical place–read: Edinburgh–that the place is magical. It makes me wonder whether the idea of practical magic is more powerful than it would be if it existed. But more to the point, I am at Betty’s Tea Rooms in Ilkley and I am remembering part of the reason I moved to this country: ADVENTURE! Well, along with tea and pikelets. I wanted to continue to experience the magic of proper tea and exquisite views that I had the chance to experience previously. Epic contemplation. When left only your own thoughts in a landscape that suggests the unimportance of man it is difficult not to be amazed.

What are men and what difference can one man make when the movements and sheer size of rocks and mountains are so incredibly larger than one man?

Well it puts life in perspective in any case. I love history. I always answer when asked, “What made you move to Edinburgh?” that it is the incredible amount of history here that brought me here. But what people don’t hear in my answer is by “HISTORY” I mean the incredible movement of rocks, mountains, glaciers, water. I mean volcanoes and continents. Britain has so much history. I also mean queens and kings, wars and jewels, myths and legends, but these could not have come along if not for the movement and epic-ness of the landscape.

I once went to Glastonbury too see the fabled “Avalon” which is a great example of how the land created legend. Iron and Calcite in the soil of the Tor as well as the holy thorn tree in the cloisters of the cathedral created the basis for myths to thrive in the area.

I walked up to Ilkley’s Cow and Calf rocks this afternoon and although I know of no superstitions associated with them, there is no denying that awesome power they have over humans. The simple fact that they have anthropomorphic nicknames includes them in society’s history. And it cannot be denied that their existence reminds of a time when glaciers tore up the land creating hills and valleys.

On the cow I found a ‘tag’ carved into the stone dated back to the late 19th century. Which is not all that peculiar given that the Victorians were obsessed with epic landscapes. But over the years more and more travellers have carved their names into this timeless, awesome landscape.

What are men compared to rocks and mountains? Why is this sentiment so striking and memorable when read in Pride and Prejudice? I feel as if it is a sentiment that is remarkably British. The American west and even bits of the east are equally  awe-worthy, never mind the heights of the Alps or the fjords of Finland. I think it has to do with the rain.

Rain allows the Brits to be melodramatic and gothic about their landscape. It tends to add drama to an otherwise sleepy village. But I think it also adds awe. Mountains and Valleys are  instrumental in the movement of weather. They affect air pressure, wind direction and speed. They can stop clouds in their tracks or redirect them. The are formed and changed by water, but also hold water that then becomes clouds.

So, in short, this is why I moved to Britain: So I could sit in Betty’s and write about why I love Britain. Or because the landscape and the people form a coexistence that encourages epic contemplation.

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