Peering out my open window above The Mash Tun and across an emerald park glowing in the sun, the rippling band of the River Spey slides past Aberlour. The Spey pulses through the heart of Scotland’s whisky country, its pure waters the lifeblood of salmon and distillers alike. A welcome breeze chatters in the trees and rings against the cables of the pedestrian suspension bridge to the north. Fishermen work the beats up and down the river and tiny, black mayflies swarm in the shade. My footsteps crackle on the gravel path before I find a seat on the soft riverbank and inhale the aromas of sunlit grass and water. My pulse slows. I am repeating the past again, when my brother and I sat in the same spot two years earlier.
The Spey gurgles and ‘shhhs’ with a wind-like quality. It’s no wonder St. Drostan settled here, among the Picts, in the sixth century. Whether he was actually a saint or a druid is lost to history, though we share the same day: July 11. I notice a man with a walking stick and flyrod, purposefully striding among the silent grasses between the gravel path and water as if to preserve this audible dream. I realize that I, too, am in that liminal space between the two, in the dryad’s grasp and tethered to histories that overreach the memories of men.