In the city of seven rivers, doves are released into the sky as a symbol for peace. We remember how more than one hundred and forty thousand people lost their lives. Every year on 6th August, we remember.
The main river that feeds the others springs from the Chugoku mountains. The water is crystal clear and full of nutrients. There are crabs on the mud flats at low tide, cormorants fishing. In the middle of one of the rivers sits an island where herons nest. A survivor tells us, he loves to come here and watch the birds, fill his heart with hope for the future.
The Puzzle Wall at Knockan Crag shows traces of tropical marine creatures in the bottom layers below a layer of lime-rich mud. Above rests an even older layer, nearly half a billion years old. Scotland was part of the same continent as North America back then. The closing of a huge ocean led to a collision of two continents and the force of this collision thrust up these older rocks to make them top of the pile. This at least, is the theory. Touching part of the puzzle with my hands brings up a tingling sensation.
layer upon layer how the earth moves truth’s her art
The clouds bring light relief from the blazing Summer sun. Along the trail we’re invited to take one hundred million year steps and follow Scotland as it drifts across the planet. Six hundred million years ago, Scotland is near the South Pole. Five hundred million years ago, Scotland is part of North America. Three hundred million years ago, Scotland is near the equator. We’ve seen the evidence of this in the beautiful rocks at Cove Bay, the sandstone reminding us the area was once a hot and arid desert.
rolling ball a sculpture on the hill mirrors our world
Moss is growing between the slate on Joe Smith’s beautiful Globe. Ferns and heather release delicate scents in the breeze. The lochs are glittering below when we look back and see how far we’ve already traveled on this journey. Before we leave, my hand hovers above the Pipe Rock in the Puzzle and its gentle pulse. It makes me wonder what landscape we’ve come from, what landscape we’ll return to.
one by one stags run down the mountain into cooler seas
We’re taking our time travelling the single track with here and there a passing place, used by many as a place to pause. People pause to take a photograph of highland cattle, their long horns glistening in the sun. Or photographs of ewes with lambs in tow, a fresh dot of red paint between their shoulders.
I pause to look at Canisp and Suilven. Towering above the landscape in the way only mountains do, they speak to me in the way only mountains can. In a soft and familiar voice they urge me to stay a little longer.
fragrant breeze gorse blooms between the rocks that call us home
Let me show you the turquoise sea, how deep and soft the sand can be. You’ll see the gulls glide on the wind and catch a fish. There will be people here on the nicer days. Some people are tall, some small. Some will bring a bucket and spade and build us a castle.
circle of life a lamb follows his mother at first light
The river bank and leafless trees are heavy with snow. Mallards, swans and cygnets mingle in the shallows. The sun is higher in the sky, her glow a little warmer. For nine months, this part of the river has been the cygnets’ home, their sanctuary. First there were seven. One of them, bright and brave, flew the nest nine weeks ago. Soon the remaining six will spread their wings to begin their own adventure.
These are the last images I have from the remaining cygnets. They were chased away by their parents the following day and encouraged to make their own way in the world. It’s been a joy watching them hatch, grow and develop. We wish them all a healthy and happy long life in the Highlands.
You can read about the first cygnet leaving the nest in last year’s post Into the World.
With love from Xenia xxx
Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.
Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5 – 1/250 s – ISO 200, f/5.6 – 1/800 – ISO 400 and f/6.5 – 1/400 s – ISO 400.
The water is still very low at low tide after a long hot Summer. Mallards and ducklings swim in the remaining flow, others climb on to islands of stones in the river. A seagull chick on the opposite bank watches the ducks. His parents are higher up, keeping an eye on their offspring. The goosander, who normally likes her own space, joins the others when swans return.
a warm sky
salmon are waiting downstream
for rain to come
The early morning drizzle is full of promise. Scorched fields of grass and droopy gardens sigh with relief when the promise turns to rain. After a heatwave and hose-ban to preserve diminishing pools of water flowers raise their heads in gratitude, singing full of colour.