12 October 2014


I was sitting in my head on Craig Varr smelling America as it drifted on the west wind across the Atlantic, up Glen Etive and over Rannoch Moor.
The ravens stabbed the rain laden breeze with guttural voices and fell chaotically in total control, caressing the air with plumose fingers until it surrendered. Down below the twilight twinkled with village lights stretching and yawning to welcome the night. Eastwards I look down on gun metal grey Dunalastair Water with its clandestine subaquatic river channels, drowned bushes, walls and fields. Here, for once, man has increased biodiversity and created a nature reserve in all but name. Schiehallion towers to the south east, pyramidal enough even from this angle and ghostly grey in the falling light. A bark rings out, emanating not from a dog but from a roe buck drunk on the essence of summer evening. Red deer are silhouetted toys on the ridge.
PapillonWebIn the surrounding hills eagles see forever to guide their swooping talon grasp of death to the hare and ptarmigan. Peregrines stoop from space on unconscious fleet, but not fleet enough, winged prey.
In vertiginous depths the Tummel snakes through fields and ‘trout rings’ join the ripples through which ospreys peer in search of prey. Sinuous waters hide wraith-like otters.
From the dark depths of premature night-shrouded woods a tawny owl unleashes its eerie quavering hoot of nocturnal mastery. Small birds shift uneasily in the bushes and mice quiver alertly in optimistic hope.
To the west, Loch Rannoch points, silver in the dying rays, at Rannoch Moor and Glencoe, dimly visible beyond. Its dark fringes speak of ancient forests resonant with oh so recent wolf howls, still echoing in the mind. The woods are black and nature’s memories tingle up the spine and raise the hackles.
Over the trees the woodcock rodes and in the marsh the snipe drum. They sound out the Atlantic air with their stiff feathers to make territorial statements. Their sounds are weirdly wonderful and literally vibrant.
Look up, the clouds separate, moonlight veneers the land and walks on other-worldly-feet across the water. The inky cloud-revealed sky grows stars minute by minute until it is night and all is different. Where did the day go? The day, where all was normal and man thought he understood. The night grasps the atavistic soul and shakes it and we are back in our place, small, wondering, fearful, ignorant, awestruck by immensity.
This is Rannoch, primeval still.

by Papillon

 

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