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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SCOTLAND--DAY 12

Scotland—Day 12

Scotland takes the breath away! It’s rough and wild with high, craggy mountains and planted forests which support a soft wood industry.

The pine trees are green except for the European larch which looks like pine but has turned brown in the fall. So wet is the land that it is fern covered. The fern, too, is turning brown with the season’s change, and in this color it is called bracken, a word I always read in British novels but neglected to look up in a dictionary.

We hear tales of the clans almost incessantly fighting each other—stealing cattle or sheep and driving them over mountains to their own lands. The clans were proud, fierce fighters and not above trying to wipe each other out through battle. Goodness knows they tried often enough.

These mountains are practically vertical. They’re high enough to make the sheep grazing on their slopes appear as white pebbles on a brown beach.

Population in the highlands is still sparse, so one has to wonder about man’s nature and its promptings. If man’s nature is wild, Scotland mirrors it.

Waterfalls rush down craggy cliffs, and streams cut deep into the land. Sometimes we pass turf ditches where peat clods are still drying in preparation for the winter.

The lochs are beautiful. One can sail or motor across the country moving from one loch to the next. Sometimes the water is so still, mirror images of sky and clouds are what you see. It’s magnificent and mysterious. It’s Brigadoonish!!!!!

Some roads we drive will be closed this winter as six inches of snow cover them. Scotland is on the same latitude as Moscow yet the Isle of Skye has a temperate climate and people visit all year. It is a country of contradictions.

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