MATT STALKER: Self-Directed Residency, 2016
Everything is slower here. “In these crannies of the mountains, the mode of supplying elemental needs is still slow, laborious, personal… There is a deep pervasive satisfaction in these simple acts. Whether you give it conscious thought or not, you are touching life, and something within you knows it.” Nan Shepherd, ‘The Living Mountain’
The walk from the wood store to the axe’s haggar at the chopping block; the careful assembly of a rickle of broken fingers of kindling atop the reeshle of crushed newspaper, brought to fragile life by the flame of a single match, nursed until grown-up into a blaze enough to raise the rationed water from cold, to warm, to boiling. And then its almost ecclesiastical ministry to the coffee grounds, followed by the rich smoky smell, steam rolling over itself in ascension, the heat on the lips and tongue as the cup is drawn to the mouth, and then — finally — the taste.
Everything is slower here. And gratitude comes easily.
Glossary (with thanks to Nan)
Haggar – clumsy hacking
Rickle – a structure put loosely together, loose heap
Reeshle – rustle
There must be many exciting properties of matter that we cannot know because we have no way to know them. Yet, with what we have, what wealth!
Nan Shepherd, ‘The Living Mountain’
Loch an Eilein
Such quality of light I have seldom seen. The Sun dropping behind the Cairngorms casts colours across the sky that bring to mind peaches, gold bullion, candy floss, the aphrodisiac neon of the urban — things that have no place here amidst the timeless Scottish hues of brown earth, of white frost, of mustard yellow and mauve heather.
Standing at the edge of a loch standing like glass, reflection is a natural process. The mind is drawn into reverential silence. Sentinels of the water, we stand as quiet as the venerable Scots Firs rising up from the earth around us. We don’t speak. To utter a sound now is to heave a rock into the stillness, disturbing the way things are: just as they are.
At the far side of the water, the slightest of breezes ripples the surface, trembling the Rorschach reflections of the forest. Its fringes become animated — pixelated, deconstructed, forms dissolving in skittering morse code dashes and dots.
Time doesn’t mean anything here. Each moment extends out fluidly, soundlessly, peacefully, magically.
- Inshriach Bothy
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