Border Raid

Shape and movement moulded into one! Okay, it's not Scotland, but while storms rattled chimneys in the far North West, a late autumn sun skidded low over the post-harvest Cheviots and if the Tweed had deigned to meander further south, we'd have a mini-Fontainebleau in Scotland. But the Dovehole boulders rightly remain part of 'the coonty'. Just past Coldstream, the road bends sharply through Milfield and a forest break on the east flanks of these gentle hills reveals a nest of sandstone sculptures... a perfect haven for an autumn afternoon, my only company a few pheasants ratcheting off over the stubble like clockwork-sprung toys.

Some spots are perfect microcosms of movement. The wind-imagined shapes of these sandstone stumps rise like remembered dunes from an ancient land, their original domes and rope-twists smoothed out into half-seen shapes and mythical softness. The movement is quick like half-remembered dreams, you flow through the easy meditations on generous pockets, the feet rasp on rough slopers and it's easy to skip over the brow of awareness.

The wind-smooth belly of a boulder. I layback up the crack, feet on a black ramp, arcing my neck to eye the big chalky jugs out right. I stretch, but they're too far, I come back to the crack, eye two span-shortening crimps at my eyes, a twist of the body allows the right hand to press, the left comes to the better crimp, the span is allowed and then the cut-loose... feet mow the short grass and top a few toadstools, the toes skitter to find solution pockets, the lunge is jacked up and then the shoulder-twisting pinch sets up a right heel-hook instinctively. I think I hear the sound of sand grains biting on rubber, but a neurone fires and an inverted hand snap allows a mantle on the flat jug... the neck crooks up to eye the finishing jug, like a short dream closing it is gained too soon...

I putter back down to the mat. The sun stops on its glide and beats without time and then accelerates and dims as I sit panting, hands tingling and clamped round knees. A bouldering border raid - a raid on time's restless gravity, my consciousness briefly having balanced a ballbearing on a pin...

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