This story is reminiscent of a trip I took to Scotland one year ago, where I was fortunate to hike across the Isle of Skye. It was one the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed, and I wanted to capture the geological aspects in this story from the north to the south of the island.
Thank you to all the lovely citizens of the Isle of Skye, who befriended me and helped me along my journey.
I gaze down at the earth as my colony takes to the skies, our leader gently commanding us to gather into formation. I fall in line behind Onyx––a familiar placement. She turns to smile at me before facing forward, stretching her wings and sailing through the air.
The fog is dynamic at this most northern point––ebbing and flowing, thick and thin, opaque and translucent. It is its own entity. Sometimes, it is a frightening one; it may mask everything its path, hiding the lands below, obscuring our view. It may become a gateway to death and darkness. Today, it has decided to be lenient. Our sights are not inhibited. And to that, we are grateful.
As we fly, I stare down at the cliffs far below, steep and unforgiving against the gray-blue seas. There, in the grasses, rests the ruins of a castle that has long since been abandoned. The stone is decrepit and worn, with grasses growing high in what used to be the floors. I turn away, wondering if the castle will have vanished from decay when my flock next returns here, to our home.
On the other side of the land, at the very edge of the cliffs, sits a small cabin. I have seen many humans come and go, passing through the open doors of the dwelling, breaking fast and forming communion. The cabin is a place of refuge, of community and safety. My kind have spent the last many months wandering close to it before our annual migration.
I feel a pang in my heart as the cabin grows smaller behind me, until eventually, it is gone.
My home shall await until next year.
The land morphs into ripples of hills. I stare at a vast pond that sits at the base of the hills, a perfect sphere in a perfect valley. The water is a mirror. I look at our formation reflected on the surface. A perfect “v”. The mirror disappears, replaced by more hills of the greenest kind. Colorful flowers protrude from the grasses, leaving small sparks of blues and pinks and reds amongst the green. An unreal, fantastical beauty.
The hills transform into boulders as we fly over more cliffs, this time on the land. They rise above dramatically, towering high and looming against gray skies. We angle ourselves higher in the air to sail over their rocky tops, the wind pushing against us with an iron hand. I move my wings faster, harder, the wind roaring in my ears.
The cliffs become rocky, curled fingers reaching into the sky, composed of strange, eerie shapes and configurations. I swerve around the strange tendrils, breaking formation just slightly, to avoid them. The rocky fingers fall behind us as we soar over a vast, stunning green valley that stretches all the way to the ocean.
It is an indescribable beauty, this valley. So green that one cannot possibly imagine the color without beholding this ethereal sight. Little ponds dot the surface like minuscule windows, leading into unknown worlds and magical realms. The wind is calmer here. Slow. Smooth. I float on it, in it, among it, befriending it. It is strange––I did not expect to feel such warm comfort in this wide, endless expanse, of which can only serve to remind me of my very small and very finite existence.
The valley transforms into another set of cliffs. Again, the wind slams into our formation, causing the “v” to break, just barely. We fight against the powerful gusts across dense fogs high in the sky.
There, like a beacon, rests the jutted, sharp rock I have come to fear. My heart flutters as we approach it, the structure that threatens to break our formation forever, to leave us lost and ailing. It is foreboding and dark. Many years ago, in heavy fog and wind and rain, the sudden appearance of the rock had resulted in many of the formation at that time to sustain severe injuries, even deaths. I narrow my eyes in focus, determined to avoid the same fate.
This rock is ruthless.
Our leader shouts something, but I cannot hear him over the wind. I do not know if any of the others can hear him, either. But I follow Onyx closely, preparing myself to cross over the rock.
It disappears for moment in the fog. A moment of panic engulfs me. And, then, it appears, seconds before our formation reaches it.
Our leader angles sharply upward. We follow suit, our wings beating us one, fierce and loyal and determined.
We fly over the rock. Not a single one of my family is left behind.
Power surges through my wings. I smile, straightening in the formation, feeling the wind calm to a slight breeze, cool and refreshing against my body. I am among the wind once more.
As the cliffs dissipate, a small town takes its place. A row of orange and pink and blue houses lines the water––a bay. There are humans roaming about the small town square, walking happily in the interconnected streets to various buildings. Smells waft toward me from far below––of eggs and sausages and mushrooms and somewhere, somewhere, the richest chocolate one can imagine.
I breathe in deeply, gazing at the humans below, of all shapes and sizes and colors. I do not mind the humans here on this island. They are kind. They leave us to our own devices, respecting our lands and our lives. And we respect them.
The town grows smaller as we fly over more hills and rivers and ponds. Everything is green and vibrant here. I know this color will not last for long, as the coldness settles in, sucking the green away and leaving a dry, foreign brown in its place. A different, alien beauty will overtake this island in the coming weeks.
But the green will arrive again soon. It always does, in the Isle of Skye.