Birches by a frozen loch
January can be a struggle, can’t it? The muse has deserted me in the past week. We have been busy with the end of Christmas and the start of new school terms and, in the middle of it all, I made a long journey to the Isle of Skye to bid farewell to an old friend, whose funeral was at the weekend. Moving and beautiful as the occasion was, with the service in Gaelic and the solemn procession of pall-bearers from pier by the shore to final resting place on a grassy knoll, looking out over the sea and the mountains, it is not mine to write about. I can tell you about my journey, however, which was a challenging drive through wonderful highland scenery rendered even more spectacular by ice and snow. It took me most of Friday to get there and all of Sunday to get home, through blizzards and on un-ploughed snowy roads. The old ‘prickly-skull’ head pain of my brain injury is back with a vengeance this week as a result; so today I have, as my dad used to say on lazy days, limited objectives. I wouldn’t have not gone for anything, though.
First of all, though, the Tuesday trees. Approaching the Great Glen, the massive fault line that runs diagonally down the Scottish Highlands, I was open-mouthed to see that almost all the vast lochs in that area of the highlands were frozen solid. Where there should have been living water, there was just a blank white expanse, as if the drawing had been left unfinished.
It was difficult to get a clear photo of the whiteness, however, because every lay-by at the lochsides seems to be flanked by trees. Except where there are commercial timber plantations, the trees of the central highlands are typically a mixture of silver birch, oak, pine and rowan. I love the slender shining trunks of the birches and the feathery grace of their bare twigs. They are beautiful in all seasons but, perhaps because of their ability to grow in the snows of the far north (even in the Arctic), I think of them as quintessentially winter trees.
In my next post I will show you some more pictures of the road to the Isles.
See also: The lady of the woods and her neighbours