At the mountains of madness

21 Oct

The other night, I drove home after going out for dinner with some friends over in South Yorkshire. As I drove back, I decided to take a route I don’t normally take, which involves driving through the countryside and a place called Marr, then getting on the A1.

I’d driven this route hundreds of times before when I worked in Bradford, but not for about a year. The countryside is pretty standard Yorkshire fields, hills and valleys and whilst being pretty, it wasn’t particularly breathtaking. Until the other night, that is.

I drove up through High Melton and then hooked a right, flipped full beam on and negotiated the narrow country road in the pitch dark. Trees on either side blocked out any potential moonlight and whilst there was a circle of clear sky above, there were clouds gathering on the horizon. As I rounded the bend which leads into a dip in the hills before you come to Marr, I was struck with a weird sense of awe and fright.

The moon hung fat and low in the sky, resting on its back amongst the clouds, honey tinged and dark. It cast its dull orange glow across the still fields, ushering its slow light towards me. As the light hit, my mouth fell open.

Looming up in front of me, out of nowhere, were two giagantic structures, silent, majestic and menacing. In the near-darkness, with an eerie amber halo around them, stood two monsters, tall and defensive. Silently warning me to not come any closer. Silently, their arms circled around their heads, gesturing to me that I should keep moving. And move I did. Struck by an initial panic then a sudden adrenaline surge, I pressed my foot down and hurtled forward, beyond these monsters from the unknown depths of outer space. As I pressed on, smaller monsters emerged, their whirling arms driving me out of their lair. A dip, a right turn, a roundabout then the bright lights of lorries and cars. I was back amongst my own kind. I was safe.

I sheepishly turned the radio up and cursed my overactive imagination.

wind turnbines at night sunset marr yorkshire fields A1 wind farm

The whole thing somehow reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, and whilst this story is about an extremely different situation, I got that weird, momentary feeling of panic and awe that I was witnessing something completely new and unexpected and my brain couldn’t instantly process what was happening. A rare, instinctive feeling and an amazing sight.

I don’t think those wind turbines will ever look the same again, even if I go back to revisit them. It felt quite magical and I feel lucky to have seen it.

h. p. lovecraft at the mountains of madness HP lovecraft vinatge book cover

The above all happened in a matter of seconds, of course. But don’t those moments that change us forever always happen in the time it takes to breathe in and out?

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