Watching the changing hues of a highland sky from the discomfort of a pile of rubble on my friend’s croft, I became aware of the broken pipe in my peripheral vision. Mesmerised by contrast, as ever, I drank in the moment. So poignant and meaningful. Just glancing at this image takes me right back to the moment – the smells, the sounds, the feeling of the air, not to mention the midges!
Out of breath and quite tired now, she had finally reached the pathway.
“Had she remembered it accurately?” she wondered.
It was so long ago now, almost 10 years!
She paused to get her breath back.
Then, standing quite still, she breathed in the earthy aroma.
“Pure heaven scent.” She said aloud to herself.
Then breathed it in again and again, indulging in the effect of the scents of spruce and pine, rotting wood and vegetation, a mustiness that clings to insides of the nostrils and almost takes your breath away if you breathe too deeply.
The breeze was gentle, making a soothing hiss as it wound its way through the branches and needles.
With each breath, memories came flooding back.
The odd tear of compassion and joy rolled down her cheek as she indulged in times forgotten – until now.
“I suppose I had better see if I can find it. It’s going to look quite different now.”
She began to move along the path. Her senses heightening as the memories continued to flow. Her heart quickening in her chest, part in anticipation, part in trepidation.
“I do hope I can find it after all this time,” she whispered to herself.
Then….. there was a crack of a twig being snapped and a loud rustling noise coming from up ahead in what looked like a thicket.
She stood quite still.
A multitude of thoughts bombarded her mind. Her heart racing and breath quickening, she tried to breathe more quietly, hoping she was invisible whilst at the same time readying herself to run.
Then out of the undergrowth a young man fell to the ground with a thud and a cry of pain.
She stared at him, momentarily frozen to the spot.
Should she run, or go and help.
Glaringly aware she was alone, her mind told her to run.
But somewhere deep inside another voice was heard telling her to stay. Wait, reassess in a moment.
She checked how she felt, then how the young man felt to her. He didn’t feel bad.
Then he noticed her.
He looked startled, frightened, embarrassed.
He went to get up and winced.
He’s twisted his ankle.
“Damn, what a fool I look, he inwardly chastised himself. Typical, had to do it in front of an audience!”
He saw the look on her face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked.
“Only a slightly twisted ankle,” he replied, suppressing the excruciating pain.
“My name’s Alasdair, Alasdair MacPherson,” he said struggling to his feet and brushing off the undergrowth that had wrapped itself around him.
“I’m Katie Stewart,” she replied, still remaining at a safe distance.
The name seemed to trigger a reaction deep within, she repeated it over in her head. A vague recollection of a face drifted across her mind.
“Was this the same person? There were slight similarities. But then we can always see what we want to see. Must approach this logically,” she thought to herself.
“Katie Stewart? Not the Katie Stewart. From Drumbeg?”
“Yes, that’s me. How do you know me?”
“Well, we were both at school with Charlie Henderson. Remember. We used to skive off school and come up here to hide.”
“Yes, I remember you now.”
“It’s nearly 10 years since Charlie had to leave Scotland when his parents emigrated to Australia. And 9 years since my parents moved to Edinburgh.”
“Have you lived here all that time?”
“No, I moved to Edinburgh too, but 6 years ago.”
“Have you come here today for the same reason I have?” she asked, hoping that it was.
He chuckled, “Maybe,” a twinkle of mischief in his eye.
A rush of excitement rippled through her. This could be an even better experience than she had anticipated.
They stood in silence, watching each other’s body language and sensing each other’s reactions.
“Did you find it then?…..Before you fell into a thicket!” she added with a touch of friendly sarcasm in her voice.
A momentary flicker of embarrassment washed over his handsome face. He checked it quickly.
But he couldn’t maintain his composure and a smile burst forth that gave the game away.
“You have!” she sang excitedly.
“Come on it’s just through here.”
He led the way.
A few hundred feet and there it was……
….. A magnificent spruce tree stood before them towering over 10 feet tall. And flapping in the breeze, way up near the top branch was the orange ribbon (what was left of it) that they had tied to it almost 10 years ago.
They stood there, in awe of its beauty. Each reliving their own memory of the day they planted it and how they’d promised to meet up 10 years later.
Alasdair broke the silence.
“This deserves a celebration, don’t you think?” He looked at Katie enquiringly, inside hoping she would agree.
“Yes, I think it does.”
“I wonder if Charlie’s remembered?” they both thought to themselves.
Oh my, what a prompt. Set me off on a long journey of aromas.
I wandered back in time, ambling around the garden remembering the different flowers, then sauntering along the country lanes recalling all the different hedgerow blossoms and scented verges.
Which led to the evocative aromas of the Scottish Highlands. The smell of moist peat, bracken and ling merging with the heat of a warm sunny day. It is a smell that reaches so deeply inside, you really have to experience it to believe its effect.
Then onto that most heavenly musty moist mix of all sorts of smells blended together as a consequence of a shower of rain in the middle of summer. Whenever it happens, my world stops, wherever I am. I am gripped by the experience and indulge fully in the moment.
I have always been very sensitive to smell – a curse and a blessing!
I know when certain people are thinking about me as I become aware of the smell I associate with them. It comes across as strong as if I was with them in person.
For years after my grandma died I kept smelling rice pudding cooking, immediately I was transported back to the kitchen. Then my mind would join in and add the smell of the kitchen and the personal aroma of grandma.
My mother reappeared with the smell of cooked tomatoes, something we both loved and probably the only thing we ever shared. I have never quite mastered the exact taste when I make them, probably on account of being unable bring myself to add the excessive amount of butter she used to cook them in.
I simply adore the scent of the lilac which transports me back to grandma’s front garden with its giant lilac bush in the corner. As a child I was known for sticking my nose into every flower to investigate its scent.
But my all-time favourite has to be the May blossom, so captivatingly beautiful at this time of year. Her heady scent so invasive, I can smell her with the car windows closed. She evokes so many joyful memories of warmer days and even warmer rainy days. Each time I smell her, the world stops for a moment. And another cherished memory is born.
Most people who currently know me have no idea that I was wild when I was younger. I did everything at break-neck speed. For me slow meant old. I had to get wherever I was going yesterday. I was full of life and mischief, with boundless energy.
I used to run as fast as my legs would take me, cutting corners on country lanes to shorten the journey time to wherever I was going. I was usually a lot faster going home for fear of being grounded.
When I started using a bicycle I would pedal that as fast as I could too.
Later on when I got my first car, which was ancient as my dad wouldn’t let me buy anything modern, I can remember driving down a steep hill, my foot flat to the floor, overtaking everyone in sight. As I passed them I glanced over my shoulder before I moved back into the inside lane and caught a glimpse of the driver looking at me aghast. I must have looked a rare sight as you didn’t see cars that old travelling quickly.
I wasn’t allowed to have a motorbike but when I turned 18, I sold my car and bought one, much to my parent’s horror. Needless to say, I wrung its neck everywhere I went.
I only fell off once, well when I was moving! I seemed to fall off regularly when I was stationary. Something to do with not being able to perform in front of a crowd.
The one time I fell off moving was down our driveway. I always used to arrive like a maniac, probably to annoy my mother who was always determined to bring a halt to any form of fun. This particular day it backfired on me. My dad had been mixing concrete and there was a residue of sand outside the back door. I came along like a bat out of hell, locked up all wheels, the bike when down and me with it as we slid past the back door and into the garage. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. It must have looked like something from a cartoon strip.
I can picture it now, low flying wayward daughter, manic mother clad in pinny (apron), bounding out of the kitchen door ranting at me. It hurt like hell (I only had office quality trousers on) and the last thing I needed was a violent earbashing. After that I always wore thick jeans and bought a bigger, faster bike!
Lingering is something I used to do a lot of when I was younger. Looking back, some part of me must have felt that I would never experience anything as good again and the way my childhood panned out that was more often the case.Hanging on until the very last moment and being dragged away from something was torture.
At some point in time along the way I did a complete turn-around. I momentarily linger in a way that is a fully drinking in of whatever it is I am experiencing. I am so deeply entrenched in the moment that I am not consciously connected to any beginning or end. Thing is you see, I like change. Though occasionally I can loathe it.
But generally I enjoy the beginning of the next thing, there is always something new just around the corner. I have no wish to linger on anything for too long. Some part of me knows when to move on.
I stop, drink in the view. It touches me so deeply on all levels that if I choose, I can remember it again at a later date. But I probably won’t, I will be too deeply involved in my next moment in a similar way that takes me to that wondrous place on an inner level where time has no meaning.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”