It is a place within easy walking distance from the front door and yet it is unlikely that anyone would stumble across it. It is not on any well-trodden path. However, nor could it be described as a remote location as would be evident if you managed to locate the area on a map. It is almost as if it has slipped through a crack in time and topographic space.
There are certain landscapes where the walker quickly becomes self-conscious that they are an intruder. Where every footfall announces to the non-human world that there is a potential threat moving in the landscape. A cracked twig underfoot that ricochets through the calm stillness, creating unseen rustlings of unease and the nervous flexing of wings. No matter how quiet you may whisper there is a strong feeling that you are being closely observed and monitored by unseen eyes. It is you who is perceived as the danger in this quiet world.
For convenience we will refer to this place as the Heron House on account of the siege of herons that appear to have colonised this world. It is not unusual to see upwards of ten of them roosting in the trees that surround this body of water or swirling silently overhead. As if each wing movement slows down time incrementally, evoking a sky filled gathering of ancient pterodactyl. Until we discovered this place, we had always associated herons as zen-like, solitary stalkers of the shoreline, so it was a surprise to see so many of them in the high branches of this wooded setting. Their presence transforming this place into something that feels forgotten and ancient. Almost a ‘Land that Time Forgot’.
This feeling of being steeped in accretions of time is heightened by diverse morphologies of lichen on many trees.
It is easy to lose yourself in the afternoon colours and textures of stillness.
Bizarrely, we come across a huddle of Giant Redwood trees, having no idea of how or why they are growing here in Fife. We stop to feel the aged textures of the deceptively soft bark which looks more like dripping lava
… and in contrast, ephemeral cascades of snowdrops flower close-by exotic looking fungi which resemble some imaginary, animated wood spirits from a Miyazaki film. Organic antenna, as if alert, listening, sensing …
This uncanny world is further transformed by the still body of water which creates a mirror world with only a thin liquid membrane appearing to prevent both of these worlds from collapsing into each other. Herons soar in the sky and amongst the watery depths.
The Heron House is not a place to outstay your welcome. We are the strangers and eavesdroppers here and can sense that our presence has disturbed some fragile equilibrium.
We return to pass through an opening in stone, sodden and marbled by weather and the colours of time.
Within minutes of walking we begin to hear familiar sounds start to puncture the stillness that we still carry.
The distant hum of traffic, a tractor turning over fresh clods of earth in a field. Tending the ground, ready for a new planting, a new cycle.
As long as the earth keeps turning
Now playing: Heitor Alvelos – ‘The Other’ from Faith
Thanks to @EdinDrift for joining us on this journey. February 2017.