The 06:28 to Manchester sped into my dreams as the rhythmic echoes of gyrating steel bounced from valley walls. It was a far cry from the ear splitting screech of blue sirens that blight the city with eye watering frequency. But, thankfully, this was not the city. Here, earache and tears came from windblast, when battling against howling gales that tormented the desolate slopes and dark waters of Widdop Moor, its haunting lament chilling the core of anyone daft enough to venture out into its relentless battering. Thankfully, today was calmer.
Piercing birdsong drifted through the open window, while raucous yells resonated into the hearth from rooks that squabbled on chimney pots. The bedroom wall of my quirky overdwelling flashed rainbows across its whitewashed surface as sunlight streamed through the tiny prism that swayed beneath its nylon thread. Sweeping across my face, the sharp breeze brought with it an urge to take a morning stroll along the canal into Hebden Bridge, fuelled further by the end reward of steaming hot tea, bacon sarnie, and a rummage around the charity shops.
Mary, the black plumed chicken, made her usual scamper into the kitchen. I finally made my escape after a chase down the yard, her bandy red legs and fluffy black bloomers in overdrive, in a bid to be first to the old iron gate. I made my way along the crumbling road, past ancient weavers’ cottages and collapsed dry stone walls, into the watery domain of laughing mallards and the muddy underbellies of towpath dogs chasing airborne sticks. Earth crunched underfoot as woodland trees rained orange leaves with every gust of wind, musky smells of autumn decay filled the chilly air, and the pungent aroma of wood smoke wafted from narrowboat chimneys. Children jumped into rainpools with bright green wellies and shrieking giggles, while mountain bikers, clad in as much mud as the local dogs, dodged the splashes. Nobody minded, nobody cared.
Town quietly buzzed with impromptu meetings of old friends as it slowly eased into a new day. Unbolted shop doors creaked into life, breakfast wafted from outdoor café tables, and tin buckets filled with fresh bouquets exploded with colour outside the flower shop. I browsed the creations of local artisans, second hand designer jackets, sustainable eco systems, and soil clad heaps of organic beets, to a backdrop of classical tunes from a street musicians nylon strung guitar.
I stood on the ancient sandstone cobbles of the packhorse bridge, watching today’s children feed chunks of yesterday’s loaf to hungry ducks, and smiled at an earlier conversation with a woman who’d returned home from shopping with an abandoned cockerel as well as bread and milk. As Hebden Water quietly rippled beneath my feet, I gazed up at the lush, steep green valley walls and felt blessed to be part of it. This inspiring town called home is a place to live, love, and laugh. I belong to it, and it to me. It is my heart, my soul, my life.