Monday, March 31, 2008

March Conversation

Dyke! Have you any idea how long you have lured my eye along your length up to the famous summit of Schiehallion? – a magnet for those of us for whom lines in the land are like a fishing reel. You’re a tease – do you know that? I’ll bet you do, all one and a half miles of you snaking with the land, insisting on your twenty six degrees SSE up the north face.

Twenty seven.

And here, out of the trees, they chose a new type of rock for you – black rather than glittering grey. As if it hasn’t seen the light for years.

Six. Hundred. Million.

Eh? That sounded like a yawn.

If you insist on waking me, prattling on and on. I was saying, you’d need your snorkel six hundred million years ago to see the deep beginnings of that vertebra you touch. Before it was ossified into this scaly mosaic.

You were underwater?

I was a forest of sea lilies then, wafting their tendrils in the currents.


Limestone. Dug from that hollow over there. The scars are grassed over now. It’s only a patch, an outcrop, floated down from the limestone pavements. Walk me a bit further and you’ll see how I return to what you call silver rock. I’m the earth turned inside out – a display of what ever’s under the turf.

They used whatever was close by?

Would you want to heave it far across the hills? Forgive me, but you don’t look very strong.

Looks can be…

It was weans and women and tinkers hauled these rocks – a heap each side of the line where they were working, building my long slow uphill spine..

They carried rocks for who?

One craftsman each side. Raising two inward-leaning walls that kissed just before they were capped. Think of the men as you walk - quick-handed, with eyes that could measure. They saw at a glance how one stone would nudge and slide against another.

I see that. Here, where there are big square straight-edged blocks at your feet. But halfway up, a massive wave-shaped rock that it must have taken two to lift into place. And around it the small flat rocks that pack against its curves, insisting on the horizontal lines again around this non-conformity. It’s like art.

They made it a rule – never pick a stone up more than once. Assess them where they lie.

A waste of effort?

If you’re being paid by the yard.

What were they like?

Men with fat fingers.

Black thumbnails?

Your fingers look slim and weak.

Look how I stride along next to you though, as you ride the waves of the land. Why on earth don’t you go around these hillocks?

I’m a march boundary.


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