March 2014

View over the Tay

In two short weeks I zip off on my return to Scotland. This period just before leaving is always full of deep introspection, a concerted effort to maintain mental equilibrium even as the days rotate away. My brain starts to wobble like a spinning top losing its torsion. The moment I stop spinning and clatter down is the moment the world begins spinning away from me, usually that intensely hard kernel of departure, of watching the house disappear in the rearview mirror.

When people ask me if I’m prepared, if I’m ready to go, they’re asking about the logistics of the trip. Do I have my flight booked, etc.? The answer is always yes. But the answer to their unspoken question, is no, I’m not ready. I’m never ready. Read more...

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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle demands your time. The great Royal Mile leads up to the castle’s perch, and, as I’ve already mentioned, you can see it from just about every spot in the city. The castle grounds within the walls form a small, tiered town that provide incontrovertible evidence for why the castle was never taken by force.

To ignore Edinburgh Castle is to be willfully contrary, and it would be a decision forever dripping with regret. Read more...

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Chanonry Point, Black Isle

Easter Ross and especially Black Isle are no secret to Scots – many vacationing families head beyond Inverness into the quiet and beautifully pastoral reaches of these sandy, hooked peninsulas. A series of firths thrust into the eastern shore of Scotland’s far northern highlands: Beauly, Cromarty, Dornoch – each name sounding more ancient the farther north you go. Ian Rankin famously described Black Isle to me as neither black nor an isle, and his words rang true when I looked upon its rolling green hills, russet beaches, and glittering blue coastline. Pretty towns cling to Black Isle’s coastline while the interior is largely left to agriculture. Easter Ross has a different, wilder vibe, though the terrain is fairly similar. Perhaps here more than anywhere else has the fingerprint of the Picts lasted longest as forlorn stones stand sentinel against the passing ages… Read more...

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The Mull interior near Dervaig

The memory of the Isle of Mull is like a warm handprint upon my mind where eagles soared in the skies and otters scampered along the endless jagged coastline, where dolphin pods arced above waters that splashed upon geological wonders thrusting from the sea, where narrow roads pulled me through vast glens echoing with the primordial hammer strokes of creation. Mull is a thriving wilderness that propositions the visitor with communion. Will you stop and allow this outside world to help you look inward?

Out on the lonely roads and in the wild places or hunched over a pint amidst the pub’s clamor there is a sense of being connected to something greater here on Mull, and in all my travels it is a special feeling I hold in reverence. Read more...

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