“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai
In late August, I traveled to the north of Scotland to visit the Shetland and Orkney Islands and finally a few spots in the Hebrides. I had always wanted to visit the Orkney Islands as I have collected the jewelry of an Orkney artist, Sheila Fleet, for many years. Couple that with my Irish/Celtic heritage and when my husband and I discovered our favorite travel group, Lindblad/National Geographic, had created a trip that began in Bergen, Norway, rounded the north of Scotland, and ended in Dublin, it seemed perfect for us. It was.
As is totally appropriate, before a trip begins, I never know what I will take away from it. I always hope for some special moments and this trip did not disappoint in that respect. In Scotland, we hiked or ‘Zodiaced’ in the most beautiful serene scenery that I have no doubt will be reflected in my art for the coming year.
In retrospect though, the highlight of the trip is one that I am still processing…..a visit to the Standing Stones of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. These stones were estimated to have been constructed between 2900 and 2600 BC. There is debate on the purpose of the stones…..some say they were a ‘prehistoric lunar observatory’ while others have proposed a relationship between the stones, the moon and a distant mountain range. The stones have become a popular tourist destination as became clearly evident when our small group reached the site. We were not alone by any means! Fortunately, buses dropped off visitors at one point near the site and then arranged to pick up their passengers near a Visitor Center that was not within view of the stones. Being a patient person, and having just had a talk by a National Geographic photographer the previous day on how to handle crowded venues from a photographer’s perspective, I knew to wander and wait to see if the site would clear. It did and when I then walked within the stones, there was a moment where the mystery of the site took over. I can only describe it as a feeling of energy as I entered the circle. The largest of the stones was overpowering and I felt, for a moment, that I was in a place of great reverence. My readings since my visit suggest that the site has always been a place visited, not a place of habitation, so I would like to think it has been a place of reverence for mankind throughout the ages and I was treated to an experience of its power.
Here then are some scenes with my journey that I hope you will enjoy!