Wind, stroking, carries seed and sea-smell before it; puffing, it rolls the lightness of loose things an inch or a mile, dust and pebble, briar and twig, to settle them anew. Bright days of its restless bounding work even surer deeds, whipping and whittling and boring in everywhere, forever tugging and easing half-strong things to weakness till they hang ready for the taking. Then the storm winds come, so much part of the days of darkness, with their streaming strength and vast walls of weight, ripping, crushing and driving up till the air becomes thick with a craze of branch shatter and flying grass from the hill.
Still now wind slices stone and rubs down the shape of things, much as it sliced and rubbed twenty-five thousand million moons ago in Archaeozoic times. Rain too has always been here, washing and polishing and jetting into rock on the back of storms; rain which, in these northern, drought-free parts, we love to curse, yet without which neither life nor even soil nor plant could ever have been. We dream back, yet it is almost beyond our comprehending, the scale of the first, life-founding rains. Before them, before all, the original wilderness was truly a dark, impossible place: fire-hot rock and unbroken night and giant winds moving beneath a canopy of impenetrable cloud. At last, with the cooling crust, the momentous downpour began, at first in blank darkness but later, as the cloud-cover thinned, through long nights and weakly illumined days: seamless rain that lasted five, maybe ten centuries, on and relentlessly on—until that miracle of days when the grey dome finally split and the sun first shone down on the enormous brightness of the collected rainwater that was now the sea. And so it was that there in the warm swell of the primal sea, the quiet alchemies spawned weed and worm, our early forefathers.
Ice and snow cramping tight have been the forces too, the slow roaming of the ice sheets in the centuries of cold bringing down earlier heights of upheaval, making turtleback and cupping of what before had been merely jagged and raw. And the seas too, now as ever gnawing and mining under the fringes of what has always seemed secure, have come rising time and again and overtaken the land, leaving behind them, when finally they went, fossil and bed and the shape of abandoned beaches. Sea and ice and the fading power of fire have been periodic workers of this land; but always, whenever and wherever, it has been the wind and the rain, always the wind and the rain.