The call of the wild

I’m in storied country. Fort Augustus at the edge of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The stones that line the shallows of the Loch, the trees dripping with lichen lace, the fir trees dressed green and warm for winter. Everything is steeped in myth and you can feel you’re walking ancient paths. It’s so beautiful.

We are staying at an old converted Monastery on the very southern shore of Loch Ness. Today we woke to see the mists rise off the water and settle around the crest of the hills that surround them. They’re not so tall as the mountains, we passed Ben Nevis on our way in, which was mountain country, snowy and rugged, with waterfalls at every turn and the high arched stone bridges you see in movies. Spectacular. There’s no snow yet on the hills around Loch Ness where we’re staying, they’re red with what I assume is heather and lined with the firs. The lichen is such a delicate pale green it’s nearly yellow, it frills everything that isn’t smothered in moss. We saw an apple tree dark with frost, it looked dead except for the russet apples still clinging to its branches. Like a spell had been cast. You wouldn’t be surprised to see a witch slink from the shadows nearby.

We haven’t ventured any further afield today than a short walk around the village. There are five locks on the canal that runs through town and a swing bridge that literally swings away from the road to let tall boats through. There was a ribbon of traffic winding through the whole town today waiting for the man working the bridge to signal for the closure to reconnect the bridge with the road. He did this, not via any technology though I’m sure there’s a lot involved, but with a clear shout that rang across the canals like a bell.

I stalked a robin near the boathouse. Hard to get a good shot, they move so fast. The birds look hardy. The deer stood still for me and the ‘hairy cows’ barely blinked in my direction.

I could stay here a while. I can feel it in my bones.

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