On the slopes of An Stac, Isle of Skye

It’s funny how the creative urge moves from subject to subject. Perhaps it’s something to do with the light at this time of year but I like to wander and not worry too much about chasing the light. I prefer to watch the light play on the mountains, being light. Doing what light does. Much as the ravens do as they do, tumbling after each other in the gale, drawing in their wings and diving steeply with the rush of wind through their feathers. Just because, well, that’s what they do.

I sit on a rock and watch, being me. On my rock, just being itself. A rock that’s seen millions of autumn storms since it slowly appeared on top of the hill. Eons trapped under ground that was eroded to sandy grains and suddenly it saw the light. It’s been working its way downhill ever since. Floods, landslips, rolled by storm force winds. Long periods of sitting doing nothing interspersed with the unexpected excitement of movement.

The urge at the moment is to write. So I’m working on my next book of gaiku, following the first volume of Gaelic haiku poems and photographs and longer poem forms to accompany what I capture on film or sensor and to that end I’ve also been reading some wonderful books.

I’ve been a fan of Jim Crumley for a long time and The Nature of Autumn is filling me with inspiration for creating new photographs, especially as winter has arrived on Skye and the mountains are turning white down to 600 metres this weekend.

At some point the mix of reading, writing poetry and working on existing photographs will come together and I’ll head out into the wilds, full of exciting new ideas and adventures.

There’s a blog I read by a chap called Tracksterman and in his latest post he sums up rather well, why we should make the most of our time in the outdoors. It’s

“what takes you beyond merely existing to actually living. You have to fit it in somehow, it’s not an optional extra”.

I agree wholeheartedly.

The image at the top of this post is from one of my walks recently on a small hill next to Blaven, An Stac. It’s become a sort of monastery for me. It’s where I like to go and look on the cliffs, watch the ravens and mist play around the rocky summit across the coire. Watch the cats’ claws on the lochan, the steam rising from the stove and the warm smell of coffee rising from the mug. Perhaps I’ll have a volume of Chinese mountain poetry with me, or some Keats, Clare or Donne. I’ll write lots in my notebook and sit next to an ancient rock, metaphorically rubbing its eyes against the fleeting sunshine after a lifetime under the mountain. I’ll feel the rough texture of its gabbro skin. I’ll feel, briefly, what it’s like to sit at length, still and silent.

The ascent on this day was cold, wet, windy with driving rain on a freezing wind but near the top it cleared for a few minutes and the light was stunning. Yes, this is living.