The Making of Hills

The Land by Milton

I have, it was recently, been caught making poignant yet unscientific observations about hills.  It was something I wrote.  You might have seen it.

Apparently hills just don’t form like I think they do – like a duvet settling on a bed – that is just plain wrong.   A friend tells me.  Then when I try to describe what I mean I use the phrase “a meniscus of billowing duvet” and I am apparently digging even deeper.  Meniscus.  He asks me.

So I have to be told that the way I view hills, that is: as a very, very slow wave – that view is very, very wrong.  I was thinking of a wave so slow as to be imperceptible. In my mind I saw the earth inhaling and exhaling at sub-glacial speed. I was working up to a metaphor that drew on surfing and foam.  But what I imagine is not an analogy – it is a fantasy.  It just doesn’t happen.

I might like to think of the earth’s crust as dappled and textured as a puddle in a wind, but it’s not.

For a person who knows how hills are made, it is physically painful to have them described as waves.  Or ripples.  For me to imagine God plinking a celestial pebble onto the unformed surface of the earth and then watching for several millennia as ripples break around and away is a lovely thing – mainly for me.

So I take back what I said about hills being waves.

Specificity is freedom.  A thing needs to be pinned down before it will grow.

We have a trough of strawberry plants in our kitchen at the moment and not many strawberries.  I’ll tell you why.  These strawberries send out runners.  When the runners are allowed to rest, undisturbed in, say, the pot where peppers are growing (oh yes, our kitchen is a Horn of Plenty), it puts down roots.  It quietly makes another plant.  It just needs peace and a place and off it goes.

All this energy spent making more strawberry plants diverts the mother strawberry from making strawberries.  So not many strawberries.  But seven happy strawberry plants where we planted three.  Bouncy and bushy as an army in camouflage.

I can’t be at peace if my idea about the hill is plain wrong.  That idea has no place.  And nothing will grow from it.

In fixity – freedom. That’s what I’ve learned.


One thought on “The Making of Hills

  1. A friend of mine who has Asperger’s syndrome and comprehends Einstein to the point of adding his own theories to his becomes loud and emphatic when writers use pretty metaphors about time and space that are ‘plain wrong’. And yes, this is freeing: with half a grasp of Einstein, our metaphors may be less stupid.
    But are we so stupid? God (who he, she or it?) didn’t throw a pebble, but the hills look as if he did… The sun doesn’t rise anywhere let alone in our east, but look, watch it rise… There’s a place for romance as well as fact, emotion as well as reason, colour as well as wavelength.

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