PART OF THE Travel ISSUE
‘Cut deep into the earth – a firm track, going somewhere’
Swallows at Crianlarich
The sleeper shuffles into Crianlarich
on a grey morning, eyes not quite open yet.
Stepping onto the platform, I feel air from the hills
splash like fresh water in my face
and am startled by a world full of wings:
swallows swooping round the station,
small bodies that jink and dart,
over the down platform, past tearoom signs
and tubs of late-summer flowers,
across lines stretching south to Glasgow,
rails running north across Rannoch Moor –
dancing as though delighted,
maybe with the morning midge-rise,
or simply with all that air
sending out urgent messages on twitter,
low-flying, then looping over and up
to gather on wires with fast-beating hearts:
a new brood testing their wings
in training for the long haul
where lines converge on the horizon,
connecting with another hemisphere
and this in-between place where I’ve alighted,
paused for breath, is where the tired year
breathes out and blows them far away –
where the young swallows’ journey starts.
A Track Across the Machair
This track is a bit like my journey, Jesus –
winding and gravelly,
rather rough at the edges.
But it’s well-used too,
cut deep into the earth –
a firm track, going somewhere.
It gives me the confidence I need
to keep going,
always travelling, like you.
‘Swallows from Crianlarich’ is from A Pocket Full of Crumbs, by Jan Sutch Pickard, to be published by Wild Goose Publications. ‘A Track Across the Machair’, from Iona: Images and Reflections by Neil Paynter and David Coleman, is out now published by Wild Goose Publications (PB, £13.99).
Jonathan Liddell is an author/illustrator. With a background in various teaching roles and a current creative-writing workshop presenter, he has worked closely for many years with children who find themselves in difficult circumstances. He graduated in …
The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has been an active publisher of Scotland’s history and archaeology since 1792. We publish beautifully illustrated volumes covering the entire range of Scotland’s past, helping to bring it to life for future genera …