You can barely see them, but if you look closely at the image below, you can discern a curved line of ‘orbs’ over the canal bridge in the darkness. These strange things don’t often appear in my camera’s visual harvest, but I’m always interested when they do – the last one of note was in a temple in Egypt.

I’m not at all fanciful about such things. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good scientific explanation for them; but mine always appear during some heightened experience . . .

We were staying at Whittle our old home town in Lancashire. A close friend was helping us put together an impromptu dinner, the sort of unscheduled meal we three have come to love: chuck in a few bits and pieces bought hastily, some cheese of, course, and whatever is left in the fridge to go with it. A few spicy sausages, bread, and that favourite ingredient – two bottles of red wine.  We were not going to see our friend and former neighbour over the Christmas period, so this was it; our small, festive celebration of a long and very close friendship.

But that was later. The orbs in the darkness were related to something else – a walk in the “black”.  I like to ‘walk in the black’.  I’m sure it’s dangerous to go walking, alone on a canal footpath so dark that you can barely see your feet. But so far, my body has not been found floating the following morning.

There’s a treat in it, of course, but that comes later in our tale.

I had been in all day, minding Misti, our stray and now fully adopted cat, who had never stayed at Whittle before, and who was very nervous that she was about to be abandoned, again . . .

I was writing, too, of course. So, if you’ve wondered why my frequency of personal postings has dropped off, its because of the sad fact that I’ve been enjoying myself too much and the students (Companions) in the Silent Eye School have nearly caught me up with the lessons!  So head-down time and try and get another lead on them to see us through all the work for the April workshop . . .

But I digress . . .

These ‘walks in the black’ are a good way of clearing the head, after a day’s intense writing; and the canal path at Whittle is one of the blackest places you can imagine – but then, that makes the few lights you see so very special.

I like taking photographs in the dark – throw away the rule book and point and hope. Usually, the exposure required means you have to have a tripod to catch anything of value, but sometimes that old canal post comes in handy . . .

Now, I seldom set off without a contingency plan in mind. I knew I had an hour before we got together for our dinner, and I knew, from many happy memories, that the dark canal path leads, up one of the longest flights of locks in Britain, to a very special pub.  The Top Lock is one of those real-ale pubs that refuses to lie down on the tarmac of progress.  It’s not exactly spit and sawdust, but it is basic -which doesn’t stop it serving wonderful beer and great nosh.  I’m not a big beer drinker, but on a dark night, with the remaining quarter mile to go, those lights beckon in a rather festive way . . .

And so I sat, and thought of you, and then discovered the ‘orbs’ on the played back images, while I nursed down that pint – Cumbrian ale was the guest beer, ironically . . . and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps just to make sure I made it ‘home’.

The walk back crosses over the motorway, and it marks a vivid return to the light, the modern light, where events rush at us at light-speed, and there’s little time for reflection.

And, yes, that pint was worth all the darkness; and the creative solitude in the cold air was worth even more.

If I don’t get chance to say it, again . . . Happy Christmas, everyone.

And Misti sends  a Christmas meow.

2 Comments on “Orbs in the darkness

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