26 February 2018

What is it about frozen lochans? I am entranced by them.

Yesterday we walked for hours out into the frozen hinterland of Assynt, crunching across bogs that would, in their normal state, swallow us up to at least our knees. This land is more water than solid earth, and the network of little lochs is like gleaming treasure, as if Quinag, the mountain that overlooks us, has scattered the contents of her jewel box, just to watch it all glitter.

I am enthralled by frozen lochans, the way vegetation under the surface shines green and full of potential, locked but ready, waiting, spellbound. The way reeds and rushes are held by the ice, blond, still, bent into triangles or frosted tufts, hushed. Most of all by the way light bends and bounces off the glassy patterns, the feather-marks and strange geometry of ripples caught and kept.

Yesterday, where ripples licked the edge of frozen water on Loch Crocach, the ice was giggling, as if it tickled to be touched so intimately. On the path, it was busily carving out hollows, performing in every puddle a ritual that at the landscape scale has given us the mountains, glens and all the lochans.

Ice defies time. It holds a moment for days. It collapses an aeon into an instant. Then it is gone.

P.S. For those following the fish-in-the-hole-in-the-aspen mystery, it has gone!

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