Half a hundred thousand acres of escape, and somewhere roughly in the middle hides this modest monochrome castle. The royal residence of the north, Balmoral, is a sprite in the lineage of Scottish castles, a youthful only-cousin that would tremble before the ancient scions like Drum, Fyvie, and Kildrummy. A flag fluttered high above the coiffed tower, and the air burst with silence. Dark trees rife with grouse leaned in as if trying to reclaim this lonely clearing. I stalked among the shorn grass and watched as strands of ivy reached toward the corbelled rooftop and battlements like some great green hand of Gaia. Winds rumbled through the boughs, punished our thin selves, and spoke of rain.
Royalty is a riddle; it half seems those who bear it wish it were a mantle of invisibility. This forlorn outpost uses empty acreage to gird off the taint of others. Are the rest of us so dissimilar? We move further into the country, away from others, defying human gravity. We seek solace, quietude, we need distance to observe the progress of things. And with that distance, acceptance, satisfaction if we’re lucky. Only then can the process of reclamation begin. Only then might the weary gardeners of Balmoral cease pulling the ivy tendrils off the castle walls.