Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Soliloquy-- Reading in the Castle Gardens

Dedicated readers will always find a pleasant spot in which to read. Always. And if they're very lucky, some of those pleasant spots will be magical.

In 2007, Denis and I spent a week in a snug cottage on the shore of Loch Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The view through the cottage windows just happened to be Dunvegan Castle. Early in the week, Denis was weary of driving, and I was on sensory overload. We both decided that it was the perfect day to do nowt (nothing). It was early April, and after breakfast we chose to ramble through the grounds along a single track road lined with primroses.

After wandering through the walled garden, I walked through the gate and was greeted by a blackbird high in a tree.

"Which way shall I go next?" I asked the bright-eyed bird.

The blackbird cocked its head and looked at me for a few seconds before taking wing.

It led me through a formal garden and past the monkey puzzle tree. Taking one look at those succulent limbs, I was quite glad this particular tree was not related to the whomping willow! The blackbird flew on, and I followed. I had no idea where the bird was taking me, but I was more than happy to be led.

Down another little lane with hedges high on either side I walked, feeling as if I were in an enchanted land. Sunlight dappled the path I followed, and huge cotton candy clouds sailed overhead. Wherever I was headed, it was a perfect day to explore.

The blackbird flew through a gap in the hedges and disappeared. I walked in and saw a tree that the child within me instantly fell in love with. Its moss-covered toes had gripped the earth for a long, long time. The yellow trumpets of daffodils bugled a spring fanfare at its feet. Low-hanging limbs were large enough to walk along, and I could picture myself shinnying up one to climb to its very soul.

I stood close and gently touched its trunk, feeling the words my heart was too full to say. I've dreamed of trees like this.

Time passed, and the sound of water brought me out of my reverie. Twin waterfalls joined to form a stream running through a small ravine. I was in the heart of the water garden.

Here and there were small wooden footbridges and benches to sit on. Birds chittered and sang from trees and bushes, and in the distance I could hear the happy whistling of one lone gardener.

There was no way I could leave this spot.

Denis had managed to track me down. He wanted to investigate inside the castle. Even though it has the Fairy Tower, I knew Dunvegan's water garden held more enchantment for me than its stone walls. Being the sweetheart that he is, Denis went back to the cottage and rounded up my book and a bottle of water and brought them back to me. He went on to scout out the castle. I found a bench, sat down, and began to read, wrapped in sunshine, silvered water, birdsong and flowers.

Not even an infamous Highland shower could chase me away from that spot. I looked up to see that it was merely a passing cloud and put my book inside my waterproof anorak and zipped it up. I pulled my hood over my hair. Taking off my glasses to put them in my camera bag, I looked out at the water garden with my very near-sighted eyes and saw a vision that would have pleased Monet.

The shower passed, I moved to another bench with another vantage point, and I read some more. I think the gardener and I were both pleased that we shared this space with no one else.

Eventually the wind picked up, the sun was obscured by clouds, and the Highland air became chill. Denis returned from his explorations, and I discovered that lunch was very much overdue. We walked slowly down the length of the water garden, down to the spot where we were overlooking that snug cottage. The tide was out, and so, once again, was the sun. Our rental car shone like a garnet in front of the cottage.

At that precise moment, I never ever wanted to leave. The thought of reading every day in the water garden was too bewitching.


  1. What a beautiful photo essay! I hope that one day I'll be able to visit this part of the world, there is a charm to it that not many other places have.

  2. I felt like I was there with you! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. That was great - thank you for sharing. I love to find cozy little nooks of the world that I can take a book and read.

    Every time you think of the book, you remember the spot where you shared the story...

  4. What a lovely, lovely post. I do so wish to go to Scotland someday and see where some of my ancestors lived. Again, that was just beautiful.

  5. Very nice. I loved the pictures and the post! My husband has promised to travel when we retire - I will add Scotland to our list.

  6. What a beautiful post, Cathy! I was right there with you. I would love to sit and read in a place like that. It sounds perfect.

  7. It is so wonderful to follow in your footsteps!

    I came home from the west coast of Scotland yesterday so I know how beautiful that country is. I shall try to select some of my best photos for my blog, but I have not had many chances to read outside. I wrote a few pages of a short story inside an old lighthouse, however.

  8. What a lovely post, Cathy. I have never wanted to visit Scotland more than I do now - and that tree! It looks so magical, just beautiful.

  9. Lilly--I hope you'll be able to visit Scotland, too. :)

    Kathy--You're welcome. I'm glad you liked it. :)

    Margaret--Yes, it is. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it takes money to go back. :(

    Sheila--You're right. When I think of the books I read on Skye, I picture where I read them so very clearly!

    Terri--Thank you so very much. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

    Cathy--I hope you do get a chance to go to Scotland...especially the Highlands. Such a beautiful corner of the world. (Of course I'm not biased at all!)

    Wendy--It was perfect...and I was reading a book by a Scottish author.

    Dorte--Oooooooooooh, I am looking forward to seeing your photos and perhaps a word description or two!

    Belle--Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! :)

    Kris--It was. I'm looking forward to spending another week on the Isle of Skye...hopefully in the next two years.

  10. Somehow I missed this post but found it as I was scrolling through my GoogleReader. The picturess captivated me. The last one, when I enlarged it, made me feel as if I were there watching that scene. I do love your writing. You made me feel as if I were there experiencing that day in your place. Thanks for the journey.

  11. You're welcome, Margot. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.


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