Originally published at Vision Junkie
If there is one thing about travelling with my mother that I will always appreciate, it is her willingness to simply get lost. My travel buddy Claire is the same way. When I go somewhere, I don’t go with a plan, or some set notion of where I am going to end up, or when. I hop in a car and pick a direction, and I go. It has gotten me to places I would have never discovered had I settled in for a long ass session of ‘Type A trip planning.’
I am not Type A. You guessed that already, I can sense that.
While out on just such a meander, we spotted a sign for some sort of preserve. Despite her bum knee and inability to make such a trek down a half mile long path to the aforementioned sanctuary, my mother pulled over, grabbed her book, and gave me her blessing.
The path was through fields and tall grass, seemingly heading to nowhere. I could hear a strange chorus of high pitched cries, similar, if I could guess, to the sound of Emperor Caligula throwing Roman children to newly-hatched, flesh-eating dragons. I ventured onward despite not really knowing the temperament of baby dragons.
The view unfolded little by little, as Scotland often likes to do. I could just make out the car far in the distance where my mother and child sat happily ensconced in their technological devices. Here I was out in a green ass field with not so much as a smoke signal to claim for communication. I prefer it that way.
The sign warned me as I drew closer to the chaos of screeching things that there was an open, unguarded, unenforced cliff up ahead. I opened the gate and took my first steps toward the view.
Have you ever felt that strange tinge at the edge of high places where some strange part of your brain wants to know what it would feel like to jump?
L’appel du vide as the French call it. (Just like them to have a word for it. Like “Staircase Wit,” the act of coming up with an appropriate comeback several moments too late) At the Grand Canyons, the Mesa Verde when I had to climb out to the edge to see over because any other view simply wouldn’t be enough – I always had that pull. Get closer to the edge. Closer still. I was a fucking idiot, ladies and gentlemen. I was the kind of hooligan risk taker that cheats death so many times you start believing karma might be real. As I have grown up and remembered those events of nearly tripping and falling at the Grand Canyon, or climbing to the outside of a Railway Bridge to lean back and let go, just to scare my best friend Maria, the tinge has changed. Now, I feel that urge and it drops my stomach and sends shivers similar to when you go pee. As a result, when I reached this cliff, I sat my ass on the ground and scooted to the edge instead.
It was birdmageddon. I can’t for the life of me remember what these bad boys were, but they were in legion. There were birds taking to flight, canoodling, squawking and shitting every where. I settled on my perch and tried to capture the sheer height of my position, without having to lose my camera or my stomach over the edge. I think I failed.
Still, I sat for some time watching the birds and listening to the unnerving swan song they offered up that makes you think perhaps they were the kids booted from Chorus in high school once they hit puberty.
I was alone on that cliff for a long time, under the gray Scottish sky, home to the never setting Summer sun. This was nine in the evening if I recall.
Ok, I’m back.
God those fucking things are good. What self control?
Chipped tooth in all its glory.
I made my way back to the car and we drove on, stopping in some B&B for supper and sleep. The next day saw a continuation of this meandering approach to Scotland. We visited Fyvie Castle, Mebhy grilled the staff about the ghosts, wielding her ‘Ghost Radar’ as she careened down the halls, getting words that even I can’t pretend weren’t uncannily eerie and remarkable. Then onto the Moray Firth, driving aimlessly toward the West, and this…
Bow Fiddle Rock was the cover photo on my Facebook page for six months before I climbed down the path to shoot a picture of it myself. It was glorious. I naturally took off my shoes and ventured into the water, maneuvering the rocks as best I could despite the nonstop murder slime that coated every jagged, hate seething surface.
Bow Fiddle was once a cave, so I’ve read. The rocky coast once reached out that far, slowly fading with the tides over the course of thousands of years. One day its arch will crumble into the water, it says. I hope that doesn’t happen in my lifetime. The Old Man in the Mountain was enough rock formation tragedy for one lifetime. Surprisingly, I managed to wade in and out without injury. Then I started my way back up to the cliffs above and Bow Fiddle tore into me with blood letting intent.
A seemingly flat stone that sat innocently on the path harbored in its heart a desperate need to shank a bitch. That bitch was me. I stepped down on the rock, and this jagged spire gouged into the arch of my foot, leaving a centimeter wide crater in its wake. I bled on Scottish soil like a menstruating vole. I made my way up to the cliffs and sat with this view for a good while, letting my foot sting and bleed until it was spent.
That fucker hurt. Still, in the old Pagan ways, the letting of blood is an opportunity. My daughter’s superstition is to spit in a body of water. She spit in Loch Ness as her declaration that she would return. I bled on Scottish soil as my own declaration. Marked up her Earth with red. I Type O Negative’d all over her. That was my summoning of my own return. And perhaps of something more.
You think I’m strange, I sense it. You’re not wrong.
Tomorrow, we continue Bunburying all over Scotland’s Shropshire. Good night and good luck