Mountain Morning Friday May 31, 2013

EXTRACTS FROM A PUBLICATION

My Dad tried to wake me with cries about the rising sun and a comet – Kohoutek – and how splendid it was shooting through the skies. He’d enjoyed the astronomical news and was having fun. I had a medical appointment once and he drove me to the hospital for eight thirty, delaying his working day. I think I got the bus home but the outgoing journey was problematic. It was an orthopaedic referral because of back ache. Feeling half dead because this was even earlier than normal, my Dad counselled me that early morning is a fine thing because it gives you leverage for the day…

Years later, I lived for a while at a yoga centre in West London. I had nowhere else to go and I’d had a long standing interest in the subject, reading books and following a regime. I slept in an attic space with only a curtain for privacy and a man who called himself Swami Padma behind it. Then a vacancy arose in a bedroom and I shared it with a German chap. It was odd and uncomfortable but I did at times enjoy the company. We had to attend five thirty rituals which I decided were Hinduism and not yoga…

The main part of it was a sing-song about imaginary beings. “Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha, parhiman! Subramanya, subramanya, subramanya, rakshaman!” That meant something like victory to Ganesh, all hail Ganesh or similar: Ganesh is half man and half elephant. I got tired of this nonsense, and started sleeping in which prompted interviews with Swami Padma and the centre director. Then I found accommodation at nearby Ladbroke Grove, only slightly better than a bedsit with merely a bedroom and small shared kitchen…

I did concede, painful as it was, the early morning discipline changed the character of the day. You felt an advantage over other people. The sing-song proceedings served much the same function as Dad waking me with tales of Kohoutek…

The morning calm happens two or three hours before the day. If you wake, breakfast, coffee, drive, work, you miss it. It reminds me of mornings abroad. Dreadful early starts in Greece, when we needed a coach to return home and to get into the mountains…

The daytime in Crete was extremely hot but at the top of the Samaria Gorge, below towering Mount Gingilos, it was like winter around six in the morning. Had the day been freakishly cold we could not have survived it: equipped only with tee shirts, Friends Of the Earth sweat shirts, and pocket plastic raincoats. We stood, shivering, taking commemorative mutual photographs…

I am lying in hospital, my bed fortunately beside a window which makes a huge difference. Out there is the world. Out there I am free to drive, shop, meet people, and walk the hills. The mild grey skies are those of morning Greece and the Pyrenees. Early mornings are an inherent and sometimes necessary part of the mountain experience. Talking once to a man at a refuge, I spoke of my plans and concerns because the book described the next section as extreme, not to be undertaken in bad weather. He told me to wake and leave very early because “you are in the mountains now” with tough guy connotations…

There are no early street cleaners in the hills, coaches, taxis, or billboards. Yet the morning has a similar quality of not quite awake, still dreaming, not yet bright. You have a start on the day before it begins, spring with only the promise of hot summer although it may be inevitable. Across the Emergency Treatment room a man says “the night stops, the day starts,” both part of a uniform incarceration. The mountains are similar whereby night, morning and day have no great distinction: the sun rises, blazes, sets; rises, blazes, sets as you wake, walk, sleep in the wild. This window is my freedom, across grey skies like a Pyrenean morning, like I am beside the lake behind which Pic du midi d’Osseau soars upwards. Such places exist, I will be there again, but not yet. I pad down the corridor for a shower and a pretty nurse beams at me, saying “ello lovey!”

Comment

  1. Marie · May 31, 11:42 AM · §

  2. James Lomax · Jun 1, 08:56 AM · §