Welcome to Day 8 of my Mary Stewart Advent Calendar. Today I am quoting from Mary Stewart’s little-known piece ‘The Loch’, for pure pleasure: name me another writer who can evoke place so well!

‘I still remember that first day, and all that it brought. The smells of damp ground drying rapidly in the heat; bog myrtle and peat and the rich mud. The incessant calling of birds – a pair of sandpipers dipping and chattering on the stones on the water’s edge, larksong rising and falling like jets of clear water, a cuckoo’s breathy shout somewhere up the hillside. There were dunlin everywhere, running along in the shallows, busily quartering the shore for food. A golden eagle stood out from the mountain crest like a ship from land, and sailed down three miles of high blue air in the time it took us to turn our heads from left to right to watch it…

‘We finished our sandwiches, then sat where we were, content to rest in the sun, and listen and watch, while gradually round us the life of the loch settled back to normal. Apart from the social noises of the birds, the glen was very quiet. The air was still, but the patches of bog-cotton quivered in the rising heat, and a few yards from where we sat the lichen stirred and wavered on a tall moss-hag that looked for all the world like a broken tree-stump.’     ‘The Loch’ by Mary Stewart. Copyright The Lord’s Taverners Ltd

I feel as though I’m there, sitting on a rock and eating sandwiches with Fred and Mary, lazily enjoying a beautifully sunny afternoon in the Scottish Highlands…

 

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