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Phosphorous Fur

Deep in the cave something... like a light when you crack your head on an overhang, but in a green tinge, the stuff you can't focus on...

The problem above me lay still, the magnetised relationship of holds divorcing into just being rock, and I remembered where I'd seen this before... on Arran, twenty years ago as a youth, during a midnight swim opposite the Holy Island. The water bloomed around me in billions of phosphorescent living things. Either the sea was hallucinating, or I'd got over-excited and pee'd in the great swimming pool of life... it races through twenty years to paste in the celluloid...amazing how memory covers ground so fast.

Boulderers find themselves in odd places, like an Indiana Jones extra lost in the wrong canyon, eyed by the beasts, suddenly nowhere near the cameras and action. I sit on the mat for a while and absorb the green gold glowing away happily beside me. Perfect time to be swallowed whole by the only sabre-toothed tiger in Scotland.

That was what I wanted, after all. I'm alone with nature, and I can feel my senses bloom with primeval latency. I squint and stare, blood beats in my ears, where I squat under the short wall - arrowed with chalk petroglyphs, poffed with carbonate blooms, black rubber smears where my feet have licked rock time and again. The boulderer's rubric; another animal's markings. There is a mossy wooded silence that presages something, I'm suddenly stopped from my fast-camera repetition of cling, fall, brush, poff, dip; cling, fall...

...a tree root bores into the moss like some stilled tornado, the young spring leaves put their hands over their lips and I'm being told something. I'm sure those were wings beating silently over my head - everything is the shadow of some hidden revelation. The cave glows as the sun suddenly fades, the dark holds on to the light, enviously as it were, and a green gold fills the belly of dank rock - a bloom of phosphorescence.

Suddenly tempted, I stretch into the cave - a dribbling prospector - and pull out a small glowing coal of the stuff. I bring it outside and it vanishes, reclaimed by the sun, as if darkness hadn't been insured.

I like this serendipity, achieved by surrounding oneself with simple rock and nature. It is partly rejoining it all again, partly the personal privilege of it all, but also the knowledge that these things happen precariously, you must stop everything... climbing becomes a dead still activity, as if you might overbalance the moment.

I know when I pull on again, the stillness will cover me like a phosphorous fur, lit up by the movement and blur, briefly stealing light from its source.


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