Hurtling to the sky across the Sound of Jura, peeking above the firmament with cyclopean wonder, and calibrating man’s place amidst the heather and hill: the Paps of Jura. Slow sunbeams pull off the wisps of cloud garments obstructing their staggering profiles. Excited gusts swirl and bark over the water and among the base of the Paps like canine air elementals. I am out on the heath incapable of uttering intelligible sounds, or moving, mere miles from Bunnahabhain Distillery. There is a barely perceptible rhythm, a feeling in the lineage of ley lines and fairy rings, some figment of a past now bulldozed and cemented over.
The bumpy ground rumbles off to the fast-moving waters of the Sound where a few houses bow like permanent and prostrate worshippers. The Paps are visible from most of Islay, which seems like some vassal state to the wild and mysterious island of Jura with its kingdom of trumpeting deer. I lean against the car and drink in the pure sea air and chill wind. There is magic everywhere: magicians in the distilleries with arms dripping gold, ghosts of the past sidestepping time and swirling among old haunts like Finlaggan and Kildalton, and the Paps rising up from the world, shedding the flimsy restraints of man’s sciences.