Springtime in Wester-Ross

Yesterday, after a few false portents you could finally sense the true arrival of Spring. I'm talking a new softness in the air, not a young at heart fellow's fancy that might be lightly turning to thoughts of whatever … Could we chance one of our favourite walks, one we hadn't felt it right for the old dogs to do any more since the onset of Winter? Yes, we decided. If it proved too, too tough we could always turn back. So off we went on our secret two mile hike through the trackless wildwood.

Mati was OK, more than OK really because she knows everything about that walk, that special place. Her old legs might be more than a bit rickety and she hears nothing at all these days, but you could almost see the spasmodic return of lost youth as she went off on well remembered detours, investigated certain scent marked tree boles, paused to examine the breeze for a sign of lost or hidden pretendy prey.

Sorosh is not only deaf but almost totally blind. I assumed I'd have to keep him leashed up and under close control in there. But in the event his nose told him where to go. He got into no trouble apart from blundering into the odd tree that had fallen during the few hard months since last we had walked this way, or on occasion having to be helped to get through a particularly difficult passage over rocks or tangle.

There is one fallen tree on which we always sit to consume biscuits, soup or coffee and sandwiches, for our walks invariably take place through the mid-day. At this spot a tiny burn trickles and tumbles past. Apart from the sound of the burn and, at this time of year, of a wonderful miscellany of birdlife, mostly invisible in the treetops, the silence is immense. So deeply refreshing. I wondered why so many of us like to congregate with noise-some crowds of our fellow man and his 'essential' machinery. Anyway, 'Look up there', Dee said quietly. I look up through the tops of the trees at the rock face rising steeply from the edge of the wood. Above it a pair of golden eagles wheel and soar in the sunlight. Unmistakable. No, not buzzards and no, not white tailed sea eagles, although we have seen plenty of the former and several of the latter in this spot over the years. I believe golden eagles form lifetime partnerships and yet, each Spring, feel the need to court each other afresh. At any rate, in doing so these two seemed the epitome of virility and of freedom and of love and of the freedom to love.

The four of us may not, these days, be any such symbol of virility; and true, none of us could ever fly as eagles fly. But as we make our slow way back to the car we know what love is and we know what is beautiful and we, like you, can always have our flights of fancy, Springtime or not.

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