The track leads out towards the salt marsh. Sheep dot the landscape, grazing the rich grass. Behind the trees, a ribbon of frosty fog marks the path of the estuary. Above lie the Galloway hills, bright-coloured by an unseen hand. Tops hidden in the mist, a woolly hat perched on the tops.
Over the hill and out of the village. The rain descends. Water lashing at the car. Streams overflowing on to the road. Paddy fields have replaced pasture. A small group of sheep look miserably at us as we pass. A farmer dressed from head to toe in waterproofs, checking the livestock. Trees stand proud, trucks reflected in pools of water. In town, the grey sky is reflected in puddles that cover road and pavement. Raindrops drum on the roof, a musical accompaniment. Shopping is a dash from shop to shop – no window-gazing today. We stop for lunch halfway back, giving the weather a chance to improve. Homeward bound, the windscreen is covered with a gentle spattering of spray. Down the winding lanes, and over the crest of the hill. A shaft of sunlight breaks through the clouds ahead. A promise of brighter patches to come.
Across the peninsula seems a different world. I head there today. Forty minutes drive across the body of this land. Turning my back on sea, I drive through a world of emerald green. Long shadows cast by the trees, marching along the road. Leading the way across to the opposite side. To a world where the estuary opens the valley wide open. The hills rise behind the market town, their peaks dusted with snow. The river is full with rain. Two days ago it burst its banks, covering the surrounding area with water. For now it settles into an uneasy quiet. The place is safe, this time. The shops are full of people, unfamiliar faces – or so it seems. How quickly I have adjusted to village life. This hustling, bustling place feels a million miles away. I find myself speeding up, rushing through the list of jobs. Force myself to pause. Carrot cake and hot chocolate – an unexpected treat. I return to the list, until at last I am done. Homewards bound with a sigh of relief. Back down the side of the valley, the estuary view spread out before me. Between the fields. A lone tree stands by roadside, silhouetted against the sky. Twisted round, bent by the wind. Reclaiming my pace, my peace, I stop the car. Get out. Look and breathe. Drink in the shapes. A corby circles overhead. In the distance I hear a trickling stream. Refreshed, I journey onwards, over the hills. Towards the blue, welcoming me home.