We had a package in the mail today from CR’s brother in Scotland, full of luscious treats like smoked trout and Ayrshire bacon and shortbreads and tablet (straight sugar, so naturally it’s my favorite). It brought with it a whiff of the far away. It’s snowing here again today, and I’ve sent out a novel idea rooted in a couple of journeys made to the Highlands, and I found myself thinking of a moody (redundant, I know) spot in the hills northwest of Loch Lomond.
The first time I saw it was an accident. Literally. Our little party was supposed to go straight north along Loch Lomond, but there was a terrible motorcycle accident and we ended up taking a slight detour to the west. It was a misty day, lonely and damp and cold. We’d been driving and driving and driving around Scotland and I was tired of it, frankly, ready to be in one spot for awhile. Then we turned into a long, empty valley, and the hills rolled gently away and my heart stopped. Not my mountains, all craggy and hard and rocky, but ancient hills with springy growth. We turned off into an parking lot to take a look at the view. A man in a kilt played a bagpie for tourist coins as we got out of the car, and it was too dramatic and too silly and for all that, unbearably moving. Standing on the overlook with the wind in my face and a quiet, poetic sweep of wooly cloud and velveteen grass, pale with spring, and the piper squeezing away, I found myself so filled to the brim with the lonely, tragic beauty of it that my eyes filled with tears.
I never knew where it was, exactly, but it was a beloved emotional marker when I thought of Scotland. Fast foward a couple of years—CR’s brother drove us up to Iverrary Castle, mainly for reason to eat the smoked fish at a restaurant along the way (and well worth it). We were on the way home, happily stuffed, and we drove around a bend–and there was my view. I exclaimed in pleasure–this time it was bathed in a gold wash of sunlight and wildflowers–and our guide said, "Would you like to stop?" I did.
CR’s brother said, "This is the Rest and Be Thankful." I love that. Rest and be thankful. Words to live by.
It’s Twelfth Night. Rest and be thankful.