Sighting on the story

This is a blessed evening. Absolutely still: the colour of the flowering heather and multiple greens of bog myrtle, grasses and foliage picked out by the orange tinge of old light. Loose cloud is pasted grey against faded blue, trailing wisps picked out in rosy highlights.
Ian and I walked the Catlodge ridge, looking back east toward the farm and west along the peaks of Lochaber and the gleaming strip of Loch Laggan bordering the distinctive eminence of Creag Megaidh, the National Nature Reserve.
We start in shade with a broken sky:
“Will it stay fine” asks Ian
“No”- my reply”- but the rain won’t last long.”
At the crest the wind is harder, driving light drops from the west, chilling our faces.
In the lee of the cairn I pull out a flask of sweet black coffee to share as we watch cloud shadow and rain curtains glide slowly across the opposite face sloping up to the Monadhliath Plateau.
Standing up to stow my gear for the return, I exclaim:
‘There they are’ and pull out my binos. The enhanced view confirms the presence of 4 dozen red deer, hinds and calves, lying in the heather across the valley beneath the monument.
At more than 800 metres I cannot identify them for what they are with the naked eye, but experience of colour and shape informs me of what I was hoping to see.
Without the alertness to their presence, I would have passed over the bank of heather and orange bracken as general, part of the overall pleasure of the wide variegated landscape, and missed something unique to the place,
worth recording.

Handsome beasts

Handsome beasts

Today’s stories are like this – announcing themselves often as nothing more than shapes hinting at significance, opening like heliotropes when subjected to light – but neglected entirely without alertness zeroed on the general, the mixed – even the meaningless.


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