Sunday, September 27, 2009

Today was supposed to be a quieter day. All we did was walk along the River Ness which runs right through Inverness, houses from the 17th and 18th Century on both sides of this shallow river that runs into Moray Firth and then to the North Sea. We walked out to the Ness Islands to find a forest bordering the river, cedar and pines and the first real changes of autumn, dappling leaves green and yellow mirrored in the sometimes swift, sometimes slowly moving water.

I'm drawn to the song "Loch Lomond" and trying to find out its historical context. I read somewhere that "you take the high road" means you'll be living, while "I'll take the low road" (the road that those who have died all must take), and "I'll be in Scotland before you" means the singer who has died will return home well before his friend who must travel by horse or by foot. Most sources tie the song (written in 1841) to a reaction to the lost cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the fierce reprisals taken against his supporters following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The song is widely sung at the end of any gathering, much like the "Tennessee Waltz" by another generation in another land and time. But the plaintive "Loch Lomond" recalls real suffering and somehow fits so well these Highland hills, emptied of people by war and emigration.

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