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Midnight Paddle on Loch Creran

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 by Eilid Ormiston

Swaddled up against the bitter cold we hauled the canoe over the frozen ground like Inuit pulling our slippery kill behind us.

Our breath instantly condensing in front of our faces we slide the boat over the ice bound rocky shore and glide silently into the shallow water.

Glancing back at the house it appeared glowing, warm, cosy and welcoming, the Christmas tree lights emanating a holly berry red glow from the windows and the wooden logs that make the walls appeared black as did the bare branches of the woodland surrounding it. The fragmented tree top skyline layered against the pristine white undulating hills behind like the images on recent cards received from dear ones propped up against the windowsill.

No torches were needed as the silvery blue moon was nearly at her fullest. We slid slowly out of the shallows, one or two strokes being all that was required as there was not even a breathe of air to disturb the surface. Once out we fell silent, sound seeming almost intrusive in this magical realm of monochrome beauty. The moonlight so bright illuminating right down to the grey sandy bottom of the sea as we slide over the surface, shells, rocks and clouds of seaweed clearly visible.

We paddled on careful with every stroke of polished wood on salty sea not to make a sound and ripple the surface too much. Feeling like native Indian hunters we silently travelled along the coastline intrigued by the tall black tress silhouetted against the deep dark blue sky, bejewelled with a multitude of twinkling, sparkling, pinpricks of celestial diamonds. An owl’s hoots broke the silence. The wonder of a falling star streaming down through the black trees seeming to be caught in the spindly branches lit up the midnight sky.

Transfixed by the reflection of this midwinter moon lying beside me on the glass surface, so still, then reflection broken and dancing in crazy 70’s disco light show as our paddles and bow stream caused ripples as we headed for home, the cold now encroaching through our down padding and fingering its way into our flesh.

Back to warmth and mirth of festive times.

This world is all around us, every evening but making the effort to leave the comfortable couch, the blue tv screen’s ever present temptation of the next blockbuster or quiz show, we risk never knowing this winter wonderland. The big show is out there, just waiting for an audience. However if we never go, the show still goes on. It is us that miss it.

Adventure is what we make it and often it is just about being there. In that place. No need for conversation or even movement. Silent contemplation. Real listening…to the sounds of nature, the conversation of the wind, the leaves, the birds, the waves. We become part of that conversation, that place, be it only for that moment however we carry it home and it stays with us. Our piece of adventure, of experience, of a happening. And the difference is we get to be part of the show, a player in the scene that is unique to us.

Lying later, warmly enveloped by goose and duck down, glimpsing the same beguiling moon peeping through my bedroom window I feel fortunate that I can have these magical experiences that are at the bottom of my garden. If I want to go.

About the author

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Eilid Ormiston

Lecturing now for the University of the Highland and Islands and currently delivering a further education course in Outdoor Leadership, introducing folks to my rugged backyard and sharing their joy in new found pleasures and landscapes is my privilege.

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