Oct. 13, 2022 — Steph and I are hiking The Highland Way in Scotland. Scotland is similar to Northern Michigan, other than there is not enough soil on this UK island to absorb the daily rain, so creeks and rivers are running every which way. We can’t hike a hundred yards without the energizing sounds of running water splashing over stones. And beyond the thousands of creeks, rainwater is either running across the trail, down the trail or up the trail as we hike.
Scotland is green, like Michigan, a hundred shades of green. It feels like my favorite places of Leelanau — those deep hemlock and cedar swamps with moss and ferns and grasses covering every inch of the forest floor. The water in Michigan is tranquil and pooled, and the creeks are slow and gentle. Here in western Scotland, water is rushing in at least three different directions everywhere I look. And the ancient bridges, walls and culverts do their best to divert it, but mostly, Scotland seems quite accepting to let all this water do as it pleases.
And my saturated-self might fight back against all this rain, too, but I am a Michigander. So, as I hike by sheep farms and ancient battlefields and high ridges, the raindrops fall, then the clouds break, and then a short burst of sunlight, then mostly long hours rain and clouds all over again. And that rhythm, I love it. Steph laughs and teases that it is in my blood, and it is. Sutherland is as Scottish as haggis is Scottish. She is calling me ‘Rob Ray’ by cleverly changing that famous Scot outlaw Rob Roy’s middle name to my middle name. For the week, it fits like a well worn rain jacket.