Tuesday, 11 December 2012


The chalet was up high in the Alps and was the highest in the village. We had a small flat there for the week and the view was glorious as a great expanse of empty space and forest and snow and river and mountain rose up high above you and swallowed up the sky. There are moments when you look at something grand and tall and broad and it doesn't look real to you, it’s far too big to comprehend, me at least. The church down the road from my house at home doesn't look real some days. The Shard in London when I saw it, the Duomo in Florence, I expect the Empire State Building, and these mountains. Blue and cavernous and cold. I've seen many mountains, the French Alps, the Italian Alps, Scotland, but the Austrian Alps were the only ones that kept their sense of enormous proportion and power for long enough to really understand it. The flat had a wooden balcony that looked down the valley and up at the mountains with their sharp peaks, and when it rained it was cool and sheltered  and you felt that the thunder and lightning bolts were far away and nothing could touch you because you were protected by a wall of mountains. I felt sorry for the people stuck in the cable cars when lightning struck as they would stop and bounce and sway in the wind and even watching them gave me the fear of God. The landlady would say that “You have to experience the cable cars when they stop! It comes with the price of living here! Fun!” The only time we sampled the cable cars they stopped during our descent and myself and my brother were alone in car with an Austrian family who laughed and screamed with joy and pointed, but I sat there with my eyes closed and looked down to the ground fifty feet below and prayed silently. When we got to the bottom I looked back up the cable car lines at the mountain and thought about how long it would take to climb to the top from the dead bottom, and how long it taken for the mountain to get that high, and whether it was really there because it didn't look it and the locals acted as if it were no different to anything else in the world and I appreciated the mountain. It may have been one of the oldest things in the world, but nobody appreciated that it was. It had seen wars and wars and deforestation and death and simply looked down with omniscience and content and grew ever taller and more unreal. It had been there before I was born and would be there after I had died and it was safe and separate and it would still grow even taller and look down on everything below it, and that made me feel safe and I understood the mountain from within and appreciated it.   

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