Nethy Bridge faded into the woods behind us as we drove south along the A9 to Dalwhinnie. The gray sky dissolved in the east, revealing the Cairngorm Mountains holding court with a crowd of coniferous and deciduous trees. Snow crowned the peaks and glimmered in the sudden sunshine. We pulled our steed onto the roadside, and I bolted out like some paparazzi of nature, camera in hand and firing. It was a moment, so special and unbelievably common in Scotland, that pulled me into the pages of my library of fantasy novels.
What is magic but the inexplicable, our wish to defy the laws of nature? The worlds of fantasy authors are visions of our own with one eye closed. Mount Doom? How about Cairn Gorm. This vision was a reminder that nature itself is magic, though we’ve seen it and wrapped it in explanations like a toddler wrapping Christmas presents.