The tail of three weeks in Scotland lead my wife and me southbound through the western highlands toward Glasgow. The road trickled beneath the glares of munros, half-mountain half-hill hybrids, that crowded around us, their crowns pressing against the sky. On this day, the sun lanced through cloud cover to cast deep shadows in the recesses of the craggy terrain, its hollow visage resembling the eye sockets of a skull. The history of this region burned fiercely in my mind.
Our car doors rattled above the ever-present wheeze of the wind as we passed through the glen. Before the road’s winding ascent out of the valley, we pulled off into a graveled parking lot and looked back across the landscape, through time.
More than three centuries past, a clan was murdered here in their homes. In the depths of winter, the kinsmen they’d shown hospitality turned on their hosts and massacred them as they attempted to flee the glen. Some believe the earth remembers. Here, existing in the silence behind the wind, the memory is palpable.
A woeful breeze washed over me that stood my arm hair on end and watered my eyes. Like the dance of two butterflies, the beauty and sorrow of Glen Coe fluttered in my chest. We stood there with the other travelers for several minutes, hollow-eyed and in silence, the vista’s perfection at once enthralling and troubling.