Through a glass window

It's Friday, 5 p.m. 20th march. Here's what I see, sitting with keyboard and monitor poised. In the window frame the thickness of the stone walls of our old crofthouse is apparent. The stones had no need to be 'dressed', having been smoothed by the action of the retreating glacier. But what kind of human strength and ingenuity did it take, in those far back days before mechanical help, to prise them from their mother earth? To lift and fit them one by one, one on one?

Just beyond the wire fence you can see the tumbledown remains of another building, probably contemporary with this one, probably built for an expanding family. The population of the Highlands was then greater than today's. The infamous 'clearances'; i.e. the selling out by expatriated clan chiefs and subsequent depradations of absentee, sheep and money loving lairds, were largely responsible for a de-population. Oh, and we mustn't forget the fact that many of the battles of post medieval Europe were fought with the mercenary ferocity and the blood of Celtic youth, that same youth which had grown strong and intelligent enough here, 'primitive' conditions or not, to place those stones one upon the next.

But outside there's the remains of a wonderful Wester-Ross spring afternoon. The iron abstraction you can see is actually the top of a garden table with chair leaned up against it, then the most unkempt corner of the garden with daffodils nicely ahead of the other growth, some of it wanted and later on to be admired, some unwanted and the object of a long running battle that, most probably, neither side will win. Beyond the tumbledown, in a hollow, you can just see the tiny pond, meeting place for farm life and wildlife galore: sheep, geese, ducks, chickens and cockerels, (two of which have been disputing lordship of late), hoodies (hooded crows), seagulls and all the others larger or smaller. A never ending pageant, a mystery play with a cast of hundreds.

And then there is the sea. Ah, the sea, from whence came all of this; I mean came all of us. I've watched it from here in all its moods and I'm so attracted by it and I've done my best to poeticise it, as I have the other land across the loch, as I have the hills, mostly lost in haze today; the hills that, ever fading, march right back to forty miles away.

I was not born of this land but you don't have to be, do you, to know it and to love it and to see the potential in it, as in all of our world? For in spite of our best efforts, nothing has been spoiled beyond redemption.

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