Sunday, August 26, 2012


I have been wooing heather now for more than seven years.  First as a tourist passing by the purpled hills trying to capture in a single image the scale of it all.  I thought about that Saturday afternoon as I rolled down a narrow winding single track road toward Forsinard.  I often find the open spaces of the area beyond the split stane comforting when my head is too full of awkwardly shaped things.  I rolled down the window as I drove along despite the cool, damp air in the hopes of catching a bit of the scent of the heather as she prepared for her full scale annual purpling the hills festival.

After futile attempts to capture broad swaths of heather, I spent a year or two looking for classic heather shots--representative heathers in various states--on rocks, stretching across pathways, a single bloom.

A grumbly grey sky shows heather off to advantage, and today after years of nodding acquaintance, admiring her from afar, posing her for my camera, I am knee deep in heathers walking in the tracks left by sheep on a wonderfully heathered hill near Gills Bay.  The colour and the fragrance shift as the sun alternately warms the heather or hides behind a cloud.  After all the years I have gone native--seeing eye to eye with heather.  Upon close acquaintance I realize how foolish I have been--despite her public nature, there is nothing common about this sturdy queen of  the hills. Up close I can see the complex patterns of different species and different ages living harmoniously.