February 2014

The falling sun pulls a sheet of light across Tobermory Bay in that scant moment between day and night. The parti-colored houses standing in a horseshoe around the dark water leap into saturated brilliance, the pink and red buoys and bright fishing trawlers drink in the twilight’s bronze dram. From the sea between Calve Island and the Morvern Peninsula, the Muileachs haul in the day’s catch, and the smell of fried haddock and boiled prawns tangles with woodsmoke and sodden earth in air that has, for once, gone still as a sphinx listening to the conspicuous absence of our “progress.”

Each moment of wan sunlight sends the world ever farther away, and the melancholy traveler’s soul struggles in its wake. For those who have lost their way, traveling is…
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Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street

Edinburgh is a poem in stone. Its stanzas the alternately hackneyed and perfect designs of its encircling neighborhoods, its phrases those of bygone eras modeled in the closes and wynds of the Old Town, and its intention the age-blackened monuments of the Dunedians’ lofty aim. Edinburgh is a city of light and dark, of height and depth, of old and even older, and everywhere you tread there are stories waiting to be heard. The geology of Edinburgh, with its twin mounts and seven hills, emphasizes what most visitors implicitly pick up as they explore this great wonder – that this is a special place whose meaning, much like a great poem, appears different to each beholder. Perhaps I am struggling to convey Edinburgh’s more subtle graces, but I do so because it is this sheen of the inexplicable that makes Edinburgh one of the world’s great destinations. Read more...

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The cliffs of Sumburgh Head, Shetland

Today’s most northerly outpost of Scottish civilization was for most of its human occupation a Norwegian settlement, and this ancestry shows prominently in Shetland’s culture and place names. For reasons I still can’t fathom, I expected Shetland to be a gray and rocky monotony, but I found a hilly and windswept landscape saturated in green and glittering blue. Brilliant white sand beaches hopscotched earth-tone pebbled coves sparkling with bits of sea glass. Along the perimeter of Shetland’s mainland and out to Unst and Yell great headlands rise up as if to fight the incessant sea, and in that clash are born towering sea stacks and cliffs pocked with seabird colonies. There is a distinct edge-of-the-world feeling to Shetland, and few beaten paths out here under the wide northern skies – plenty of space to listen to that interior vibrating voice so often lost… Read more...

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Hiking to the Queen's View above Pitlochry

Perthshire is a place of beguiling beauty, its ancient forested vales, rolling foothills, and deep, stringy lochs forming a greater impression upon the heart than the sum of its parts. Once upon a time this region was the southern kingdom of Picts, its strategic positioning south of the mountains undeniable, but perhaps there were other reasons for its situation: Beauty, harmony, variety, and a primordial sense of right-ness. Here age old history and nature lend themselves to new age interpretations, for rare is the place elsewhere in Scotland that has vibrated with such a comforting and meditative air. I am drawn to Perthshire’s vibrant hamlets, Caledonian woodland, and the loch-speckled hills of its western reaches. There is a well of magic here that the Tay and the Forest of Atholl and Strathbraan have managed to preserve. It is a quiet, contemplative, satisfying draught… Read more...

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