Bone Caves & Mountains

I began this blog because this one by Steve Marshall took me places ... in both space and time.

First of all I was transported back in time to when I was last in Assynt, climbing up to the Bone Caves. Not a terribly arduous or long climb but it takes time. It makes you take time. It gives you time and it asks you for time in return. Climbing up there is an exchange between woman and mountain.

Then I was took back further. I dreamed in the Bone Caves last time I was there, dreamed back in time. The caves aren't that big, but big enough. Looking out through each of the four openings gives you a different perspective, and not just on the glorious mountains opposite.

Straight ahead of you is the Canisp. Peering over his right shoulder is the puig of Suilven.

I fell in love with them both the first time I went up there. Different, and yet there’s a huge, ancient sameness at their cores. They hold you, hold your eyes, it’s hard to look away.

‘Let us show you,’ they whisper.

‘I have been here for a billion years,’ Suilven says.

‘Ha!’ Canisp mutters as he squats on the moor, bearded with cloud. ‘Spring chicken! I came out of the Earth’s breast half a billion years before you!’

‘And me!’ calls the three-headed milk-pail of Quinag.

‘And I am mother and father to you all,’ says Ben More, in whose lap I sit as I crouch in the caves.

What am I doing here, listening to mountains bragging about their age?

‘Shut up and listen,’ my inner self chuckles.

‘We have been here, watching over the land, for more than a quarter of Mother earth’s whole lifetime,’ they tell me. ‘Imagine what we’ve seen.’

I can’t, of course. Imagine back a billion years? You try it! I’d come to the Bone Caves to see if I could reach back to when the cave bears lived here, wolves and lynx. As I thought of them in my dream they were there, huge, beautiful and wild. Humans never lived here, they told me, but two of your kind were buried here, long after we were gone.

I was sat in something ancient. Ancient long beyond most human imagination. Flashing pictures of forests and seas loaded onto huge rock formations like cargo on trailer trucks, and moving, being shunted around. After a moment I realised … I was watching continental shifts, that’s why forests, lakes, rivers flashed into and out of existence, the rocks, the continents moved invisibly slowly to my human sight. I was getting the speeded up version. It reminded me of the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance”, but this wasn’t life out of balance, this was life itself. Life was moving perfectly in balance; it was me that was all out of kilter.

Everything began to slow down. Forests and rivers grew and shrank, at an easier speed. Finally, they stayed still.