The Calder Valley is a place shaped by water: water that falls from the sky and soaks the land and feeds the streams that etched the valley out of folded rock; water that fills the reservoirs that once made steam for the mills, work for the people and fabric for the world. Water that sat brooding, still and silent in canals while centuries of barges moved coal and iron and goods and people and families through the jumbled crumpled hillsides. Water that makes the long winding journey from its own history in the Pennine peaks to the Humber where it greets the dwindling fish stocks in the cold North Sea.
Water for window boxes on high rise balconies and water for allotments; water for kettles and teapots, water for spuds and lentils and washing days; water for scrubbing down front door steps, water for tin baths and washing machines. Water that freezes in sheets on the steep roads down the valley side and water that falls as snow and caps the moor tops like a yellow antimacassar on an old arm chair. Water for scrubbing up on Sundays, car washes on Saturdays and the pints we sink on Fridays down in town; water for christenings, sacred ceremonies and the people that make umbrellas. Sheets of driving wet rain that wash the high moors clean and soak the baleful sheep as we drive past them on the way to shop in Tod or Hebden, Sowerby or Mytholmroyd, Elland, Brighouse or even Halifax. Water that runs from place to place like an errant lost child in a windswept street market, breathless, wild eyed and uncontrollable.