I haven't been on the Moor quite as much as usual over the last few months. I've been out and about, working on a new project—of which, no doubt, more later. But I couldn't let mid-August pass without a photographic excursion up to my favourite trig point and along the edge.
The Moor is at peak-purple at this time of year. For a few short weeks each summer, its magnificently drab brown hues become engorged with mauve. It's everywhere you look. All this colour seems a positive extravagance. Not very Yorkshire at all. Not that Yorkshire is noted for its discretion, you understand. But purple: there can be few gaudier colours. It's almost as if the heather is trying to catch our attention—or draw it away from something else. The annual bloodbath that commences on the so-called Glorious Twelfth of August, perhaps. The British army used to wear red tunics to conceal bloodshed; perhaps that's why our moorland heather turns purple at this time of year. Or perhaps it's just a reminder to the grouse to keep their heads down.
As it happens, I spook a twelve-pack of grouse as I approach the trig point. I've not seen so many together before. Safety in numbers, maybe. They launch into the air in uncharacteristic silence and head off low across the heather. Usually, they would kick up one hell of a commotion, no doubt causing me to jump out of my skin and bellow, but not this time. Perhaps they've learnt to keep a low profile in the shooting season.
When I was at primary school, aged about six or seven, the teachers used to tell us stories about how Jesus had died to save our souls. I struggled with this concept. An incorrigible materialist even then, I decided they must be talking about a physical organ inside my body. I had a vague idea what my heart, lungs and stomach were for, but my soul...? I deduced it must be that strange, purple-coloured organ nestling between my lungs and my stomach that I'd seen in a brightly illustrated children's encyclopaedia entry about the organs of the body. To this day, I'm still not entirely sure what my liver is for. But one thing I do know: in the unlikely event that there is indeed such thing as a human soul, my soul will be the colour of Yorkshire heather in August.