Friday, August 24, 2018

A Scotland Tour: The Hermitage Walk

When we first talked of visiting Scotland, I thought of castles. I like castles.

I like touring ruins really, looking at fragments of the past, imagining with awe the reflection of a thousand years. I incorporated Irish ruins Christine and I visited on another trip into a novel, and I thought more ruins would surely inspire fresh ideas.

Yet as we made our way along our tour, things other than castles kept capturing my attention. Things older I suppose.

Near Dunkeld, we stopped at The Hermitage, a path created by a duke in the 18th century on behalf of a bard named Ossian, apparently a blind bard, though the epic poems attributed to him were penned by a later writer named James Mcpherson.

I got kind of a non earworm as I walked the path under towering fir trees, struggling with a misremembered lyric because I kept thinking I was in a forest cathedral. It's Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" I was trying to summon up. That mentions a "mountain cathedral," I think.

But forest cathedral applied with a sunny Saturday afternoon's rays filtering through branches and leaves. While the trail is old, the forest had a primeval feel. That's the real connection the Fogelberg tune makes, a "forest primeval."

It was an accurate one there amid ancient trees and stones erupted from somewhere deep in the earth.  And just like being on the deck of a ship looking across a vast ocean, everything else seemed far away, not gone but compartmentalized for a while.

We made our way over a stone bridge and on to Ossian's Hall overlooking a waterfall on the River Braan, listening to roar of the water flow over more of those ancient stones. 

And we sat on stones as well and contemplated for a while and felt our calm restored in spite of the turbulence of the universe. There's more in the world than we sometimes see. 

It's waiting silently, while the things that clamor for our attention fill our view. 

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