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  • Michael

#0052: The Wind Of Change

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From my perch on the summit of A’ Cruach, I watch as the westerly breeze carries dark skies toward me.

The rain front draws near, leaving a patchwork of broken cloud in its wake, throwing blades of silvery light into the steely waters of Loch Riddon.

The wind whistles around me as successive bands of black and gold race across the landscape from west to east, crashing down the steep, dark slope beneath me, before spilling out onto the surface of Loch Striven. They wash over a small motorboat as it draws sparkling white coils of wake across the water, burning bright for a fleeting moment, before sinking back into the gloom, to join the murky secrets of the loch far below.

Everywhere I look, the scene is in constant flux, like a fidgety child who won’t sit still.

To the north, the rugged bulk of Cruach nan Cuilean writhes and twists in the ever changing light, its craggy outcrops basking in pools of dazzling light before plunging into deep chasms of shadow whilst, all around them, the grassy slopes become vivid cascades of chartreuse, tumbling between the rocks.

Beyond it, the gleaming white blades of the the turbines on Cruach Mhor spin wildly in the wind, a troupe of glittering dervishes dancing through a vast expanse of amethyst heather which seems to bloom in an instant, then wither once more as the sky shifts from cobalt to concrete overhead.

A streak of copper flashes across the hillside where the sunlight falls upon patches of dying bracken which, so recently, had painted the slopes with broad strokes of deep emerald.

Far below, trees sway in the breeze, their branches dancing in broad arcs whilst, nearby, broad, earthen root plates reach into the sky, monuments to the firs which refused to move to a different beat.

Above them, crows take flight, catching thermals and then abruptly changing direction with the indecisive wind, as the last remnants of summer are blown away to clear the path for autumn’s advance.

Even the rock beneath my feet is not immune to change. It came from fine sediment, sinking through the warm waters of a shallow Cambrian sea, to create deep strata of sandstone, twisted and contorted under the unimaginable heat and pressure of the Highland Boundary Fault, and then ripped from the Earth by the glaciers of the last ice age to leave the exposed crags scarring the landscape today,

I watch a fat, hairy, green and black banded caterpillar slowly makes its way toward a patch of heather for a final feast before retreating into a silken cocoon for the winter. Come spring, it will emerge resplendent in the brown and orange finery of an emperor moth, spreading its wings under a strengthening sun, and seizing the opportunity for a fresh start.

Change is inevitable and, as we now know, it can blindside us, turning our world on its head in the blink of an eye.

In these extraordinary times, we could learn a lot from the birds as they fly on the breeze, from the puddles of golden light chasing over the heather, from the branches which bend rather than break.

As I stand on the hilltop, I stop leaning into the wind.

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