Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mountains and Marvels

   Saturday morning some visitors arrived with the snow.  The wind wailed in sideways, the night fell clattering upon us, and we cackled and brewed up some dinner.  The evening produced a kitchen of vapours and rain lashing the windows, a table crowded with dishes.

   The next morning we took ourselves up into the hills, to a stone church with bright blue doors.  No one saw us come and no one saw us go, but we found a stone circle tucked away in that churchyard.  A recumbent stone lay beside the grave stones, unable to overlook the hillside for the trees.  I stood still for a second to imagine a winter's night, the moon rolling slowly across the sleeping stone's back, from one side to the other.  I tried imagining quickly the long, slow hours of watching its creeping stillness, like sleeping.

    But then we were off, throwing ourselves into the snow covered day and the narrow, winding roads.  We stopped and crept through an old souterrain at one point.  It was almost invisible at first, and then we saw a little arrow and almost right next to us there was a hole, a little square door that went straight into the earth.  We bent ourselves and crouched until we passed through into a room where we could almost stand in the pitch black, wondering what might sit invisibly just beside us, almost touching us as we stared without seeing.

But it was not long before our eyes met with a marvel...

   ...A castle that seemed like it had just come to a stop on a hill of fresh snow.  I just couldn't quite believe that it had been standing there for long.  It seemed like, unwatched, it could slide across vast spaces like a chess piece, or something from Kin-Dza-Dza, or maybe it could grow up the side of an icon and be carried around in someone's bag.

Here it is on a visit to a more humble castle.

And then, this is it on its way to meet with an even taller Sequoia, which had, itself, travelled a long way in its youth, before settling in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland.

This fine tree was kind enough to grant my wish of two weeks ago, of mountains and giant landscapes.  I shrank to a whisper beside it.

   And the next thing I will show you is whisper-like as well.  In the snow that blew horizontally across the ground, in the deafening wind that choked and pushed us, on a string of a road that clung to the side of a mountain, we came across them.  Perhaps thirty or more.

They only stopped and watched us, they did not hurry away.

I am sure there were sounds then, but I remember only that a great hush fell on everything.

There would be no need to run, for creatures that can make time stop.

 They just stood still as the bare trees, catching my heartstrings in their antlers.

 And then, their spell cast, we turned away from our otherworldly meeting and back towards home, only stopping to peek through the gates and wild hedges of another castle or three. 


  1. Your words are beautiful gentle true magic and so is the country where you live. I know you meet all such wonders on your paths, just to nourish the artist you are. Thank you, Jodi !

  2. Wow, it really must have been like magic, meeting those kingly animals in the snow.
    The pictures look like illustrations for "Snow Queen".

  3. A magical post to wake up to! I can feel enchantment in this place strange, almost crooked castle and a blessing of deer, how completely inspiring and mysterious! Your writing shines here.

  4. my god, magic follows you everywhere! the photos are all amazing. those blue doors...and you're right about that castle, what a perfect piece. i'm off to follow the link of that fascinating name, kin-dza-dza. thank you!!

  5. Heisann!

    What a strange castle in the Highlands!
    And the deers made the scene magic...
    Have a wonderful week in the snow ;:OD)
    White snow is beautiful, but our snow is gray and dirty now, not nice at all!

  6. It's these moments which create stepping stones throughout our lives. Thanks so much for sharing the photos of your enchanting journey, and the new friends you met!

  7. I love, love these magical pictures and evocations of place. These pink-harled castles of the north-east are perfect, my favourite Scottish castles. Is that Craigievar, the first one, the chess piece sliding across the snow? What a strange and delicious idea. I shall always think of it like that now.

    Your photos of the deer are wonderful. They are always easier to spot in bad weather as the snow drives them lower down the hills. We saw several large herds on the other (south-west) side of the Cairngorms recently, but I didn't manage to photograph them, so it is a treat to share your meetings with them.

  8. Thank you all for the wonderful comments!
    There has been a lot of talk of magic in your comments, and it seems to me that it really is quite magical to have the chance to send out these little posts and then hear straight back from people all over the world. Thank you!

    Zoe, do have a look at Kin-dza-dza... it's probably one of my favourite films (though there are quite a few on that list).

    Dancing, yep, it's Craigievar alright! So lovely against the fresh snow.
    I wish I lived in a place where I ran into deer all the time... you are so lucky! They were incredibly hard to photograph, with all the fast-falling snow my camera was having trouble focusing, even though the deer were being the most patient of models.

    Welcome, welcome to Lecte and Joel... so happy to hear from you both!

  9. Oh lucky day, how lovely and majestic! Beautiful photos.

  10. Jodi*!* I'm swooning at these images - my legs have gone all wobbly as I make my way to call my husband to come see. There's no way I can read your words just now, for I'm sure they will be harmful for my heart rate. That's not the wind blowing around your Aberdeen abode; tis my sighs ;)
    the periwinkle blue of those window sills and the salmon pink walls of the castle ... oh be still my heart*!*

  11. The deer made me think of Narnia with the animals all turned to stone.

    I loved that piece of music playing at the start of the Kin-Dza-Dza. Replace the sand with your snow and I can see why you would picture chess like movements from that castle. Smiles & thanks for transporting me*!*

  12. Thank you all... and thanks for visiting Jude!

    Annie, it makes me so very glad indeed to hear that those photos made such an impression. (In fact, I just got asked what I was smiling about.)