The wind is picking up as the tide flows out between rocks, exposing seagrass, bladderwrack and multi-coloured stones washed up from the river. A fishing boat heads west. The gulls that follow pour out high notes in excitement.
Rain is falling across the water. This side of the firth is still dry. We know that happy feeling that stirs inside when we are given extra time to enjoy these smells and sounds a little longer.
spring weather – a smiling dog shows us how to play
Today, we traveled south and east towards Glenfeshie. The scent of scots pine, rowan, birch, juniper and aspen fills the air. The trail is covered in pine needles and scattered cones. Among sleeping heather, young trees have found the space and light to grow, with a granny tree watching over her descendants.
We meet a group of walkers on the way, who make a fuss of Misty. An older lady herself, her enthusiasm for discovering new places is as fresh as ever.
high on the hill – the pitter patter of melting snow
The rain has stopped and small drops twinkle on the pine and bare branches. We follow the trail as it winds down the hill, passing the place where a young hind once stood between the trees like a statue, without any of our dogs noticing.
Misty looks at me as I remember, sees the pictures I am making. She smiles her loving smile, and I treasure the new memories we make together.
feet in the shallows – we feel the surge of a deeper flow
The morning sun warms our faces and paints the rocks in amber and brown. After a cold, clear night, the sky’s pastel-blue is reflected in scattered tidal pools. Sea lettuce waves in the shallows, bladderwrack rests on rippled sand. Gutweed glitters between the barnacles stuck to exposed boulders. Misty walks through the water and even to us, it looks inviting. She slowly moves forward, careful not to make a sound. It is only then I realise, our twelve-and-a-half-year-old forever foster is stalking a crow.
Most of the forecast rain blows over and we take a chance to head for the coast. Misty sniffs the marram grass, already turning gold in places. We navigate our way through the dunes, following a trail of boot and paw prints. Side by side we pause where the light bursts through the clouds, showing us a glimpse of blue.
fresh northerlies – a pied wagtail chirrups near the stones
September’s sun dapples through green and ochre leaves as the path meanders past a three-hundred-year-old sycamore, still standing strong. A few dog-less people make a fuss of Misty as she skips past them to the sunny side of the wood. A robin sings his heart out on a garden fence, where the path passes a few houses. We cross a small wooden bridge over the burn, one side of the water green with algae. Once we turn left, we see her.
Birnam Oak six hundred years old and more this autumn
One of the last living relics from a medieval forest that once grew here, her girth is around seven metres. The oak’s lower branches are so heavy they are supported by stilts and part of the trunk is hollow.
Shakespeare is said to have visited this area in 1589 when he was an actor and later immortalised the wood in his play Macbeth. This tree would have been mature when Shakespeare walked here. Touching the bark with my left hand, I feel a pulse that gets stronger and stronger the longer I leave it there, filling my palm with heat that travels down my arms and my spine, as if they are branches.
then and now a mild south-easterly tingles the leaves
The sky is grey above the hills and we set off with raincoats wrapped around our waists. We walked this trail so many times the last twelve years, in all weathers. With Seamus weaving through the trees, sniffing moss and lichen and Ruby, always by my side in rhythm with my stride. With Eivor, leaping across streams and puddles to keep his paws dry, and Pearl, walking into the same streams to cool her legs and have a drink. Their smiles still linger here, their paw prints are embedded in the soil.
Here we are with Misty, who is as wide-eyed and enchanted by the glen as all the others were. For a while it feels as if we are walking with them, including those who Misty knew.
Misty’s family came over for a visit this weekend and it was lovely to see them again. After a walk on the beach we went back to our house and they gave us this beautiful picture of Misty as a puppy that had been hanging on her late owner’s wall.
Misty is still very playful. She loves flinging her toys around the room as well as my slippers. Showing her the picture, she sniffs it and looks thoughtfully at her younger self. Then she turns towards the wall with pictures of our other dogs, where she is happy for us to hang it.
fruits of summer – between blackcurrant bushes forget-me-nots bloom
It is almost a month ago when we first met Misty. The morning after she moved in we went on a short break to a small village further along the coast. She had been on day-trips with her family before, but never on holiday. It was a blessing to have this quiet time to get to know each other. And Misty loved it.
When we returned home there were vet visits and blood tests and since then, our bond has only strengthened. We admire Misty for her spirit, the way she seems to understand and read us, the way she fits into our lives so easily. The ripples can be felt when love walks where we walk, sails with all who sail beyond our sheltered bay.
flowing river in tune with the moon she finds the sea
Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste – Theodore Roethke
The sun warms our backs as we walk along a narrow trail between dandelion clocks and flowers. Rhododendron and lilac are in bloom and their scent seems extra sweet this morning. We feel at one with the wood, the bog lands and the meadow as if we have always been part of earth’s garden.
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