Showing posts tagged Highlands

The land of Gavin Maxwell.

I just started reading his infamous Ring of Bright Water and I am already bowled over. It takes me forever to turn each page because I re-read almost every paragraph three times over. He is a master of language and description. I am immensely lucky to have visited the house and beach where he called home, but regardless of my knowledge of the place the scene is exquisitely clear. It evokes homesickness in me for the Scottish Highlands, and those days of traipsing about the hills only stopping for stories from our wonderful Scottish Bard and home-cooked meals from his dear wife. 

Even Maxwell’s Foreword is breathtaking:

"In writing this book about my home I have not given to the house its true name. This is from no desire to create mystery—indeed it will be easy enough for the curious to discover where I live—but because identification in print would seem in some sense a sacrifice, a betrayal of its remoteness and isolation, as if by doing so I were to bring nearer its enemies of industry and urban life. Cammusfearna, I have called it, the Bay of the Alders, from the trees that grow along the burn side; but the name is of little consequence, for such bays and houses, empty and long disused, are scattered throughout the wild sea lochs of the Western Highlands and the Hebrides, and in the description of one the reader may perhaps find the likeness of others of which he has himself been fond, for these places are symbols. Symbols, for me and for many, of freedom, whether it be from the prison of over-dense communities and the close confines of human relationships, from the less complex incarceration of office walls and hours, or simply freedom from the prison of adult life and an escape into the forgotten world of childhood, of the individual or the race. For I am convinced that man has suffered in his separation from the soil and from the other living creatures of the world; the evolution of his intellect has outrun his needs as an animal, and as yet he must still, for security, look long at some portion of the earth as it was before he tampered with it.