Ardfern is one of my favourite places, and I wrote this about how I feel when I am there
|The many tongues of the grass licked my bare arms and legs, leaving traces of moisture on my skin and I could feel the eyes of the night watching from their corners, yet I felt no unease. It was impossible to be scared while the rich velvet shadows held me softly in their arms and a light summer breeze caressed me gently. I lay in the lap of nature and relaxed.
The sounds of the night filled my body, flowing through my veins to reach and cleanse every available space. The clearing was filled with whispers old and new, history and future merge here to create a present of harmony. It is when you lie still at night, alone but not lonely, in a place such as there, that you believe in the presence of ghosts. You can feel them, spirits of trees, people and animals. Of life that came before and of that which is still to come.
The wind breathed deeply over me and with it brought the scents and sounds of the village below. The course peat of the traditional Scottish West Coast smokery, familiar and yet somehow different in this night-time stillness. The faint smell of fresh fish and seaweed from the latest income at the fishing pontoon and the tempting aroma of hotel and pub tugged at my senses.
Above me, a foamy cloud drifted away from the moon and the bright rays filtered down to shimmer on the forest bed. Near the upper surface of the canopy, bats flitted too and fro like a shoal of tiny black fish, and the sky seemed to ripple against the edge of the clearing where the uppermost fronds of the trees swayed to the rhythm of the wind. As the moonlight washed over the bare ground beside the rocks, the packed earth was transformed to the silver sand of a Hebredian beach.
I had walked to this place above Ardfern village many times and it never failed to amaze me that I could feel lonelier in the town life that I was used to, than I did here. In that other world I could be in a bustling street full of people and still be alone. Lying in my clearing with only nature for company I was content and strangely at home. There you know the difference between being alone and being lonely, and appreciate the knowledge.
The stars observed me silently; blinking occasionally as a human eye does when it has stared for too long. These eyes, more open and yet more secretive that human eyes, had stared for millions of years, and would stare for time to come. In some ways, the view above me was time itself. Seconds did not matter there, in that place where time stands still and life keeps its own pace, for the West Coast lives in a time of its own. It is now, as it was centuries in the past and will be centuries into the future, yet it is very much in the present. No wonder the fairies hold their own.
That most western edge of Scotland, with its lochs and islands, is a place to leave your heart, safe in the hands of time. I had left mine a long time before and as my eyes closed on another evening in the clearing while the atmosphere seeped into me, I knew that it was there that I must always return to be re-united with it.