A story begins with a glimpse. A glimpse into another world, a glimpse of a character, a glimpse of a narrative. Sometimes that is all it remains: a half-caught moment that will never become anything more. A scrawled fragment in a notebook destined never to become a tale. The trace of a fiction that won’t be fulfilled.
On a gloomy day seeping drizzle my dog and I walk through the dene, challenging the dregs of February. There is nobody else here. The world is hushed and the silence pulses with promise. I stand at the edge of the burn, captivated by the way the gold of the reeds lights up the gloom. The day feels enchanted and as far as I’m concerned the enchantment is in just this: the reeds and the silence. But as we walk the meander of the burn, I glimpse the flicker of a vibrant tail. I gasp, because I’m sure I have seen my first kingfisher, the metallic teal feathers unmistakeable. Only a glimpse and then the bird is gone, but I return the next day and am rewarded by a longer glimpse of the kingfisher’s back. It flits off, under the bridge, and though I can see it perched on a branch in the distance, it disappears before I approach.
Glimpses are moments of possibility. They are often the things that I see when my attention is elsewhere. Caught by that softness in the vision, when I’m aware of my environment but I’m not trying to look. Glimpses are suggestions. They could lead to something, but you don’t yet know what. My imagination is fired by glimpses: a white-haired woman in a tartan cape cycling through the square; a dawn-lit fox in the undergrowth; a couple taking refuge from the rain under a tree; a trio of roe deer in gossamer-clad fields; an abandoned slipper under a winking streetlight. Moments that are nothing in themselves, but seem bigger than what they are. I write them down and they may only ever be small slices of potential – or they may become something more.
It seems that I always want more. More of the experience. A closer look. I want to see more than a glimpse of a kingfisher – I want to see her close up in all her colourful glory. It’s in our nature to not want to let go. But sometimes the glimpses are the blessings. Ephemeral gifts. Useless to try and hold on. I’ll never catch that wisp of kingfisher; perhaps she’ll never reveal herself to me. She was there, in that particular time and place, to let me feel a little of the spirit of the earth, and to remind me of its impermanence. That’s the magic of the glimpse. Sometimes I can fashion it into something tangible, sometimes I’m not meant to. But I will always remember that glimpse of green, spiralling away like a radiant breath at the end of a dreary February. They may be fleeting, but often the glimpses are the moments I remember the most.