We made an unhurried trip to Kirkcudbright yesterday afternoon to visit the monthly Producers’ Market there, and then after acquiring our consumables (heath honey; cheese melt; basil plants; sea weed and juniper smellies; beer), we ventured into the Kirkcudbright Galleries across the road to see the Galloway Hoard exhibition.
But it was only much later in the afternoon, during our regular walk through the marshland on the raised dyke rampart, that we felt humbled by the stretch of time. In our minds’ eyes, the golden bird pin, star attraction of the Galloway Hoard, connected us to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking antecedents of this place, back a thousand years in time, when iconic birds and their exquisite representations formed part of a human experience of life. Our own marvels at the delights of bird song, as we moved from scouler willow to hawthorn bush, past the guelder rose and the bird cherries, following the song from tree to tree, have been the marvels of people for so many millennia. We are a part of that continuum.
As we ambled along, our walking poles helping with our balance, we clocked the regular placement of young English oaks and emerging ash. Long after we are gone, tall trees may grace these ancient dykes, forming a colonnade of delight for walkers of the future. We have been privileged to experience these giants in their youth.
The inexorable sweep of evolutionary time is so vast, so far beyond natural comprehension, as to feel impossible, and yet it stretches out both ways from our delighted present. Our good fortune, as sentient beings, may be to experience directly the spread of seven generations of our kind, from our great-grandparents to our great-grandchildren. We’re not given much more time than that, but such a sweep might cover lives lived over two centuries, lives that we can actually feel.
Thus humbled in our musings, we settled down in the early evening sunshine and thought about our own future. Although there’s not such an expanse of open time left, as we had in our youth, there’s still lots of joy to experience, new adventures to have, and bird song to lift our hearts.