Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Independence in Scotland

Scotch Mist








I am filled with metaphor.  

We are staring into an abyss.... Or, at least, we think it is an abyss, though there is no way of telling. Mist, Scotch mist, obscures all (except that there is nothing there....)

Apart from this sign.....








My brother is a mountain goat (though you might not think so to look at him).  He has 'conquered' 219 of 282 Munros (Scottish peaks over 3,000 feet), so has 63 to go to become a compleater.   




I am more a lame duck. I may, perhaps, have got to the top of some half dozen or so in my lifetime, but I wouldn't call it conquering.... 






But it's not about achievement.  It's about compleation.... Or it's about the road to compleation. You start something. You don't just walk away. At nearly 68 my bro' has managed to clamber the sides of 219 peaks. Why quit now?  I have absolutely no doubt he will top the lot before he pops his clogs, but if not, so what?  At least he will die trying.  To walk away now, saying he had to regain control, would reduce the whole experience to a petri dish of Nigel Farage's sperm....








I have just spent a weekend with said Bro' in Scotland. I have been gaining my independence. Writing as I am on the eve of the UK referendum in which the question is whether to remain in partnership with blood brothers or to perform a caesarian on ourselves without an anesthetic, I am filled with metaphor.  





My Bro' and I (and not to forget L'il Bro') are blood. We don't live together. We circulate in different spheres.  But we are blood and need each other when times are up or down.  





Like the orchids on the hillside we are not complete in ourselves. We cannot exist in a vacuum.





Or, like the cotton grass, we don't flourish singly. Symbiosis, with a little independence, seems to be a suitable way of life.....







The first day of our trip we climbed Creag Mhòr, which reaches a height of 1047 metres (3435 ft). Creag Mhòr (Big Rock) is one of the remotest of the southern highlands being situated about eight kilometres from the nearest public road and being surrounded by other high ground (thanks, Wiki). We probably covered about fifteen miles in the eight hours or so it took us to get up and back. For a weed from the south this was testing, and the frequency and content of messages from my knees, thighs and hips to my brain put antisocial networking to shame as I began to yearn for some end to the pain....





But, when the exhilaration was over, and we were back on the flat, I was glad I had done it.  




Later, at the Luib Hotel, James and Jenny provided us with sustenance and liquid refreshment, and humanity no longer seemed a remote ideal....







The bigger test - the real caber tosser - came the next morning after breakfast, when, overlooking Rannoch Moor, with distant views of Ben Nevis, Bro' parked near Achallader Farm and we set off, in fine weather, for Beinn Mhanach (954 metres) via Coire Achaladair.  

It should have been a walk in the park.  The breezes were Zephyrus at his kindest, with clouds dappling the hills and nary a spot of sleet nor snow.  But I wandered with cloud-like loneliness in my heart, thinking, I am slowing him down,  and I can't go on.....







Truth is, I had become as useless as Nigel Farage in a finishing school, and as self-centred as Boris Johnson on the wall of death.  Or, perhaps, as welcome as Iain Duncan Smith at one of William Hague's drinking bouts....

Somehow there was a mismatch.....

We stopped for lunch.  The views were wonderful.  The map, however, said to me that there was no way I should proceed.  It was time for me and Bro' to part company.




And so it was. He was to scamper across, fly up the crags and bag another Munro, with his personal goal ever nearer. And I was to turn my attention to the closer study of the world immediately round me.




I love being in the open, with air in what's left of my hair, and that ringing silence you can only get when a skylark is deafening.  No buildings.  No cars. No TV.  No football.  No worries.....

I love to explore the pictures that all of a sudden, without the need to slog up to yet another thousand metre cairn, reveal themselves to me.  Here is the delicate-looking Common Butterwort (pinguicula vulgaris)






It's barely ten centimetres tall, if that, but it is a killer, being one of the United Kingdom's few carnivorous plants.  The sticky leaves being disposed to curl around unsuspecting flies, who are then ingested through the pores...  And these are all around me!

Quietly working out their existence, like the lichens on the rocks:




I nearly step on this beautiful ground beetle....






And narrowly miss slipping over this little frog, one of many:







On close examination, the world about me is alive.  Without the slightest difference with my brother, I come to the realisation that our differences are compatible.  He can leg it and I can limp.  He can soar like an eagle, while I flit like a wagtail.  And there's room for us both....







And so an afternoon passes, my eye tracing waterfalls:








Catching reflections:





Enjoying the rich colours:





The lighter shades:






Discovering some strange creatures away from the public eye:






And eventually being reunited with Bro' amongst the bobbing of the exploding cotton grass.






The Hills are Alive.....









Yes.  I achieved something approaching independence in the Scottish Hills, and was the better for it.  But that independence couldn't have happened without my Bro', without the planning and the travelling together, and the shared love of challenge and outdoors and all that.  I wouldn't have been there etc etc.  








It's late and my metaphors have begun to muddle.  I have a drop of Aberlour within reach, but the memory of James's cask strength 20 year old GlenDronach in my head. 


This is no time to leave.....  The party is just beginning!  









I can be independent.  But not on my own......








That's just Scotch mist.  

The abyss.....














To recap last year's sortie, please see....




I remain, 
yours faithfully....






No comments:

Post a Comment