Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Secret Gardens & The Unexpected
During my time 'sentenced' to Carbisdale Castle high up in the mountains, fate stepped mercifully into my somewhat dreary existence. Story of her life, you must be thinking, but fate met me in quite an unusual and unexpected manner. In kind of a grand manner. A manner that spoke more than words ever could!
During this miss-matched tour business at Carbisdale, I met the only other four occupants that were in my age group. They were loud wild-haired Aussie girls and I think all of them were teachers apart from one nurse.
Fiona with the flaming curls and I agreed that we would do our own thing on Christmas Day. Bugger the regime of Bruce-the-sex-god who tried enforcing us to follow the rule and go with everyone else on this godforsaken ‘excursion’ to a rocky and I'm sure windy, beach… We did not stuff our fingers in his face but shrug off his constant threats rather dismissively.
So I woke up on Christmas morning and leisurely opened some prezzies from home. The place was as silent as a ghost - lovely. I then tiptoed downstairs past the many oil paintings to meet my new friend, as agreed the drunken night before. She wasn’t there. The castle is huge alright, but we did say we would meet in the front lobby. How many lobbies do you think could be there, if a castle has 365 windows - one for each day of the year?
I thought that maybe she had decided to go with the group after all. So left to my own device, I left the grounds singing softly to the tune: Queen of MY castle. Took a left out of the gate and started walking along a narrow road towards nowhere in particular. This small and warming activity took me nearly all day to complete. I think, the memory will be lodged firmly in my memory even when I’m a dementic, incontinent and somewhat deranged 90 year old lady one day.
The whole world around me had turned into a fairy-world. White-washed and shivery cold. What did I read amongst furry snowflakes, naked trees and little red-roof croft houses? I saw a lot of things over and between the lines of buzzing telephone poles and farm fences…
There was a flecked speckled thrush searching looking frostily at me from a farm-gate. Clumps of brittle mottled Birch trees blending well with the scenery. A small sheep shed with cattle and sheep grazing nearby – steam rose from black and pink noses as they searched for grass and hay.
Ravens skirting the edges of a arctic blue cold and cloudless sky. A rail track with juniper or hawthorn red berries shining under the soft rays of a winter sun. The bluest lochs I have seen to date. Tracks. Traces. Trickles of melting snow… My thoughts were audible in the great hushed silence, the crunch of my feet on snow accompanying the direction it took.
Then a sudden blanket of snow, a somewhat whiteout blizzard spent itself all over me - and I went standing on a bridge that ran across the railway track. I stood here for a while; toes probably going into the stage of frostbite, but my thoughts were adrift in places where it did not matter.
I took an extremely beautiful photograph here; pity I can’t put it on here right now.
A stranger stopped his car, asking if I wanted a lift. I declined, because I wanted to complete the long Christmas walk on my own. Much later before darkness settled, and back at the formidable castle I walked straight into Fiona who had just reached the outside of the lobby.
Exclamations: Where have you been?!!!
Our breaths formed clouds as we ogled each other curiously and with surprise. I found out that she could not find me either, that morning. So she became an explorer of ‘Secret-Gardens’ on the grounds of Carbisdale Castle. She was utterly enchanted with what she found.
I told her about traversing on a lonely cold and sacred road strewn with small stones and unexpected gifts: Burns, lichen and frosty leafs, berries, birds, railway tracks and plenty of snow.
So a fairytale was born from desperation and a little bit of misunderstanding. We looked at each other, a friendship born and smiling we went inside to join the rowdy mob on their return by a raging hot fireplace. Fiona passed me some paper from a drawing pad and pencils, and we sat down to start some sketches of our day and solitude wanderings.
Oh and we had a cold dinner of Brussels sprouts and Haggis meat later on, amongst the bluish but elegant marble statues and portraits scowling down at the barbaric youth.
A toast was held in honor of all the wandering ghosts of Carbisdale Castle.