A deeper landscape

Sun, Apr 12, 2020

Beinn Shritheal in morning mists

Another day, another lockdown. Sunny and windy with a brewing gale from the north, it was a good time for a spin on the bike. Just before Broadford it was a bit of a shock to see a snake of brightly coloured people crammed onto the quad bike track to the loch. It was the greatest concentration of humanity I’d seen in, let me see now, three weeks! Quite a shock indeed.

The Sleat road was deserted. Normally a steady flow of traffic of all abilities, good, bad, indifferent, appalling, today it was post (or is that mid?) apocalyptic calm. I sat up, hands behind my back, enjoying the gale blowning me south, the warm sun on my face and the completely empty road.

A few miles later I stood on a loop of old road, listening to the birds and realised how deep the landscape sounded today. I’ve stopped here often on the way to work but today I could hear the birdsong echoing in the forest. Looking through the haze to the Red Hills and a peep of snowy Blaven above the Sleat moors, the landscape was a three dimensional soundscape. It stretched out behind me into the forest via a choir of birds that is always hidden in the noise of traffic. There is a world we don’t feel any more. A world beyond the wall of noise humans create. Except today, I heard it again. Not a vehicle passed while I stood next to the bike, listening to the burn run under the old bridge, the wind shoosh the grass and the birds sing from the depth of the forest.

Back home I came across a diary entry of Francis Frick, the 19th century photographer and it seemed to fit the day perfectly.

each morning I awoke to a fresh and joyous consciousness that I was breathing the brighter and freer atmosphere, as it were, of another planet … the tide of human events and of human life seemed to have come to a tranquil stand.

How long will the tranquility stand?