Geoffrey's Home
Geoffrey's Spilt Ink

Taking Possession

David Byrne of the Talking Heads Signs His Book of Photographs

In a Green, Wet World

At Jasper Ridge, Early One November Morning

Late Season at Lassen

Water Buffalo


On Night Paths

The Heron

Related Pages

About My Writing...



Red Gravenstein Press

Literary Explorations

About Me

Spilt Ink Home Page

Fleabonnet Press

Contact Me



In a Green, Wet World

Angus and I step out of his family's holiday home in the fishing village of Mallaig on the northwest coast of Scotland and into a misty green world of peat bogs and lochins, the ponds that nestle in the peat. The thick wet grass thoroughly soaks my socks and shoes within minutes of leaving the house as we march up the hill to the south.

The bottom of the fog hangs no higher than a few hundred feet above our heads., swallowing the land as we climb toward the ridges. We can hear below us the whine of boat engines on the waters of Loch Mallaig, a narrow, twisty finger of the Atlantic. Ghostly silhouettes of sheep appear ahead of us as they hear us approach and escape over the rocks and heather. We wander across the hummocks, hills and bogs, generally heading east across the peninsula jutting into the Loch. The mists densely shroud Cruach Mhaleig, the closest hill. Angus declines to climb to the top, saying, "Now that I'm older, I'm not interested in going to the top all the time. I only want to go if there's a view." We clamber up Sgur an Ghiubbus, the highest hill in the area, despite his declaration. The hill looms above the southeast corner of the peninsula and stretches high enough that the weak sunlight graces the very top, which is considerably dryer than the lower slopes. We find a good spot for lunch just below the cairn, near the little brass marker set in stone, all green with age and looking like a part of the rock itself.

After lunch, we scramble south in search of Loch Eireagoraidh, the reservoir that supplies the village. We tumble down-slope, bouncing over hummocky meadows and sliding over heather. Sheep run bleating away; we glimpse red deer, hooves clattering on stone, glimpsed, like the sheep earlier, silhouetted in the fog. By the time we drop below the fog and see the water caught between steep cliffs ("I don't remember this," Angus says. "I remember it more gentle. No big cliffs." But we haven't gone wrong and there is no other loch that hides in the mists), the deer are gone, though there are always more sheep.

Below the fog, the world opens up before us once again, no less strange than the fogbound lands above, but lacking fogbows, the white arcs of refracted sunlight, and surrounded by jutting lines of rock marching across hillsides cloaked in purple heather. We make our way through a very wet world. Only the rocks are solid and after hours on spongy peat bog, they, too, feel as if they will shift beneath one's weight. Water everywhere, seeping across stones, gurgling through deep cracks in the peat, filling black lochins and dark lochs, burbling out around our feet, cascading, bubbling down steep and narrow streams. There is scarcely any solid, dry ground; what solid ground we do find has obviously been very popular with the sheep, for the grass has been cropped short. The sheep run bleating again when we meet them, pausing only long enough stare around stupidly, and then run headlong once more.

1 of 2 Next ==>

Spilt Ink logo by Brian Kunde. Used by permission.

Copyright © Geoffrey Skinner. All rights reserved.
Please contact me for corrections or comments.

Red Gravenstein icon Site Design by Red Gravenstein Arts
Last modified, Jan. 22, 2001