The winter has not been long, and I think for the first time, I have realized how much I love this season, when life is simpler and quieter. But sometimes, still, even in the calm, when I see my face after the day, I wonder: where are the promised green pastures? Where is the rest that metaphor implies?
And then I think about a green pasture and the buzzing of activity, the frenzy of growth, and the bright sunshine and think: ok, maybe that will come someday, but today, this Scottish brownish golden hue is ok. And not just ok, but superior. Exactly what I need right now. This early or end of a dull season has beauty so undiscovered.
Our third day at the magical farm of Killiehuntly, deep in the Scottish highlands, we took a guided hike with one of the estate's gamekeepers, Ben, and his dog, Jay. (Jay was named by Ben's daughter, "Jason". But she is female, hence the nickname.) Her enthusiasm for being alive brings me joy even now, sitting on a beige couch on a mild winter night without much excitement.
I can't say I knew what to expect on this hike, but I didn't realize that walking through the heather, spiny and dry on top, but spongy and slippery below, would be such work.
But with the trudge up the hills, the views and colors morphed: blues and browns, oranges and militia greens, olives and forests.
I'd been a bit worried of the winds in Scotland, and they weren't mild. But as mild as November could be, they were. Absolutely the chill we wanted for hiking, but without a strong bite.
Ben showed us the variety of plants melding into the heather. I think this was a type of juniper, used for gin, if I remember right. Meanwhile, Jay loved scratching on the heather.
There were thin fences along ridges here and there, reminders of the hard work the estate is doing to regenerate and rejuvenate the land by managing the deer population, who eat the sapling pines that need to grow.
Even in the middle of the island where we were, the fogs and mists seemed to materialize in just moments. I'd turn one way to see the view, turn back, and there was my view: poof! Gone!
And then back again.
This dollhouse is also now owned by the same estate that owns Killiehuntly, I believe Ben said.
Ok, no green pastures, but there were rainbows,
and still waters.
The density of the boggy landscape was incredibly surprising from the look of the dry browns everywhere. And water being held high up in the hills still yet another surprise.
We hiked a ways along this ridge, the fog leaving and returning, blowing through us it felt.
And then we were at this sheer expanse of a view. It's hard to tell from photos, always, how expansively far we could see, and how high we felt. It looks like I was also feeling a little wet, as I'd pulled out my rain layer.
Watch this transformation, as we did, from the drizzle,
to the sunshine, and crystal views.
The warm sun on our backs as we (slowly, very slowly) scrambled down the deep heather, a very, very long way.
It's hard to tell, but the angle of this hill was only less terrifying because the thigh-high heather caught our skids and slides. Yes, I did slip down a few times.
To be honest, it was a bit of a slog, but the views all the way down, all the way, were stunning. Ben was much more adept than we at the heather-trekking.
I consoled myself on the leg strength I was building.
When we reached the bottom, we saw a small bothy, the Scottish word for hut, and were given a quick tour of the restored building.
It was easy to imagine an older life; now the space is used for small gatherings and remote parties.
We walked back through fluffy fields and along still moving streams. Jay bounded along and beside.
Walking home along the golden trail, truly, I felt grateful to be able to share the beauty of this land, so varied, so still.
As if the passing of time was nothing to fret over, the land was there with us, truly goodness and mercy.