I stand upon the wind-scoured bones of ancient lava flows. The crown of Arthur’s Seat is a composite of blocky, red rock and shallow, rippled puddles that seems to float over the city of Edinburgh. My eyes barely function: tears stream across my vision and the beastly gales threaten to dry my contacts into rigid saucers. The Boards of Canada playing in my headphones turns the scene into a cinematic montage. Silent strangers fight tooth and nail to prevent being borne aloft like the forgotten balloons of toddlers. I turn my back to the wind and blink away the tears.
A couple sits hunched next to a defaced stone marker, subject to the wind’s whims. They wear black jackets and knit hats that veil any identifying details, though they periodically reach out mittened hands to one another. Portobello and Musselburgh and the Firth of Forth and the Kingdom of Fife splay far beneath them like some old mariner’s map thrown open on an heirloom table. I stand here for some time, looking at their backs and the smallest glimpse of the distant Scottish countryside, as zippers, hoods, and straps thrash in the turbulence. A moment after I shoot this photo, they lean their heads together.