Friday, October 7, 2011

Legends and Bygone Eras

The day after Chatsworth, we ventured to the border of Scotland, where we found a wall.  The original plan was for a wall 10 feet wide and 15 feet high.  What's left?  Not much.  All the same, those Roman architects have my admiration.  We were at a fort complex that sat in the middle of Hadrian's Wall, complete with commander's quarters and bath house complex.  The reason so little is left is not due to any failing on the Roman's part--ruthless conquerors they may have been, and many other things besides, but they were splendid architects.  Rather, the reason so little remained was because people took stone from the wall to make their own walls or houses or barns.  Hey, ready-quarried stone.  But enough remained to see where the walls had been.  Some of the walls still remained, in fact, and you could see in the bath houses where the floor had been elevated a foot or two so the hot water could run underneath to heat the floor tiles and let steam rise up through holes in the floor.  There was even a whole room remaining, arched ceiling and all.  Of course, it was underground, and fenced off, but the fact that it was still standing two millenia later...yeah, they knew what they were doing.  There was also a small museum with some artifacts, carved stones, tools, and so forth found in the general area of the fort.  It was a moist and chilly day, but it stopped raining long enough for us to look around for as long as we desired.

In the afternoon, we'd arrived in Edinburgh and we hiked up Arthur's Seat.  The trip was awesome, but this part was my favorite.  The hike was short but rather steep up to a peak looking directly over Edinburgh.  Beautiful view, but the best part was the wind.  We're guessing it was in the 70 mph range, but I don't know the exact speed.  It was kind of chilly, a bit wet, and positively splendid.  I wrote an essay on it, so if you've read the essay, the next segment is an excerpt therefrom.
        "I stood on top of that mountain peak fighting for footing and feeling more alive than I have felt in a long time. The wind rushed past me in a primal fury, howling and whistling like a thing possessed. I don't know how to describe the energy I felt; it was exuberant, it felt as though I were being suffused with some fantastic power. It was like swimming against the current in a river of wild joy, permeated to the bone by the sweep. The wind buffeted me, trying by hook or by crook to knock me off my feet and sweep me to the nether ends of the sky, and I pulled my hair down, leaning into the rush, and threw its challenge back in its teeth with a laugh.
Long before I would have liked, we began to leave the summit, clambering back down to the shelter of the lowlands. I suddenly realized my legs had turned to jelly, all the strength drained from the climb but mostly, I think, from the effort of fighting the wind. It came as a bit of a shock to me. The energy I'd received, however, and the exultant feeling that I had felt did not leave me for a long time. I can feel something of it just by casting my mind back even now."

And back in the hostel that evening, I discovered that my hair had taken advantage of its freedom and the peculiar circumstances to experiment with new and creative ways of tangling.

So there's that.  I think I'll call that good.
Again, questions welcome!

1 comment:

  1. I love the imagery in that piece!--JCD

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