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Unto The Hills

ALL day, the clouds had hung over the quiet loch. The waters were subdued to a monotone of grey, with only the faint white ripples at the edge to bring back a hint of forgotten silver. Over the far hills, gold yet lingered in a vain attempt to penetrate in the gloom, but the trees moved softly in a wet wind and the sorrowful croon of the curlew heralded rain. Then, it came -- big, heavy drops at first, shattering the surface of the waters, drifting across the hills in a veil of moving silver, shutting out the distant gold. The trees moved restlessly, fluttering their leaves at the impact of the storm. Then the rhythm changed. The heavy, single drops gave place to the fine patter of a shower. An intangible, misty wetness blotted and blurred the whole landscape, so that all was seen “as in a glass, darkly,” with the changeful Impressionism of dreams.

For perhaps half-an-hour, the downpour continued, steadily and without relief. Then, quite suddenly, a shaft of light filtered through broken clouds, drawing a finger of gold across the shattered reaches of the water. A hint of blue gleamed in the sombre sky -- widened and spread, while a fresh wind chased away the clouds. The cry of the curlew rose to a high, rippling note of ecstasy.

The trees shook themselves. The grasses straightened their bent backs. The loch danced in to kiss anew the drying pebbles on the shore. Proudly -- fresh and green and sparkling with a million diamonds -- the rejuvenated world raised its head for the caresses of the sun.

Loch Insh, view of north-western shore, Strathspey

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