31 October 2011

Huts in the HIlls

There is something about huts in the hills. They are strategically placed for a break, often with a view, up or down a valley, looking at a leading ridge, to a peak or an upper beat.  They usually have water nearby, maybe a supply of beech for the fire or a seat outside to remove your boots.  Inside there may be a fireplace and always, and most importantly, some bunks to rest the body.  Sometimes they are high up (always a view here), cosy and here they have the extra advantage of having lightened your pack by the weight of a tent. If others are there the company is always good.

They all have a character of their own, the smoky chimney, the chopping block, their noises at night, their cladding, writing on the walls, even their loo. There are special things about huts in the hills in the way they talk to you, the clap or tap of tin or branches - the way they record the sound of wind and rain. It is always comforting and - secure.

Barker Hut - 1953
You always have your special huts - sometimes they are just memories - sometimes waiting your return - sometimes never to return.

Washbourne Hut

                                                So lonely, little in the big valley,
                                                hungry for talk.

                                                Scrub gone,
                                                only slack-wired
                                                remnants of a horseless paddock,
                                                the mound of chips,
                                                on top a well-chopped  log
                                                the axe.

                                                Inside your ruddy
                                                corrugated skin
                                                joints groan to the moan
                                                of the north-west wind,
                                                a silent patina remains
                                                of names that echo
                                                the clatters of cooks,
                                                talk of floods,
                                                snow raking 1918,
                                                the summer muster in '34.

                                                Mountain men with
                                                a big thirst for the Methven pub.

                                                A black billy sits upside
                                                down beside the bouldered hearth,
                                                a waratah skewers chimney sides,
                                                hangs empty hooks of No 8.

                                                Waxed stalactites droop from
                                                jam tin candle holders which
                                                hang on dwangs before
                                                your smoky walls.

                                                Tiered bunks sag,
                                                sacking, tattered, torn;
                                                where's one without a seam
                                                to rest the ghosts of passers through?