Obviously I didn’t really photograph Wuthering Heights, the lonesome place where Heathcliff brooded in Emily Bronte’s classic novel. I did manage the next best thing.

Almost.

I’ve heard that there is a ruin far across the Yorkshire moors near the Bronte Parsonage that was Emily Bronte’s real life inspiration. Not being the tramp across wet, misty desolate areas type, I’m afraid I can’t say if it’s true. Instead, I’ll imagine it so, along with a shadowy figure roaming its confines…a darkly romantic Heathcliff…shimmering in the place where words and imagination meet.

What I did find was the Bronte Parsonage, where Emily lived with her parents, sisters, and brother.

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As in much of Europe, a person can stand before the well aged two story brick building, and easily imagine the long ago literary legends going about their daily lives. Such places seem caught in a bubble of history and time. Seeing them is like observing the past, with an eerie feeling that a single step forward could take you there.

I lingered, memorizing both the way the house looked and how it felt to know they had played as children exactly where I stood. I turned away, and searched the view in all directions as far as I could see. I was not sure what I was looking for. I just knew I did not want the experience to be over.

There was a footpath made of roughly square stepping stones not far from the parsonage. I started along it, thinking I might at least see a bit of the area that would have been familiar to the Brontes.

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It led me toward a cluster of quaint, if nondescript houses. Charming, but not what I was hoping for. A little further. Nothing memorable or exciting. A few more steps, still searching with a kind of interior desperation borne of too much imagination and not quite enough to adequately feed it. Just as I was about to give up…turn away…leave the Brontes behind…I saw this….

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The close confines of the small city that was Bronte central–Haworth–opened up suddenly. Miraculously, instead of plain houses and pretty vegetation, there lay what to my minds eye was the very moor that Heathcliff galloped across on his way to the dark reaches where Wuthering Heights waited for him.

My imagination galloped wildly with him. I stared and stared, captivated by the mentally superimposed image of a silhouetted figure, hair and coattails flying, his horse’s hooves churning the rough ground, as he raced away from heartache toward his refuge. Wild and free, just like the moor.

I had to walk away for real eventually. If not for the threat of wild weather that matched the temperament of the moors, I might have stood there until dark came. In a way I wanted desperately to strike out across that green grass and up the hill. I needed to know whether going far enough would take me to that ruin that lived in maybe. Even more I needed to not know, though. I needed the ruin to stay where it was. Firmly in my imagination where the disappointment of discovering it did not exist couldn’t touch it.

So now when I see the picture I took, as the wind and a few raindrops blew in from the unknown realm of Wuthering Heights, my mind’s eye shows me still that far beyond the hill, deep into the mysterious depths of Emily Bronte’s imagination lies a solitary remnant of Wuthering Heights, waiting for the master she gave it to come in from the rain.

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