Until I’m disabused, or have done some more reconnoitring with my handy compass app behind the New Galloway Golf Club, as we sit on the elegant slab bench looking over the Glenkens, I shall understand that on a clear day we’re seeing the Galloway Hills.
My interrogation of Google has thrown up some interesting perspectives; the sight lines from the top of the Merrick, highest Corbett peak in the Galloway Hills, mean that it can be possible to see the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, and Ailsa Crag of the Inner Hebrides. In another perspective, legend has it that St Columb, seeking remote exile from Ireland, sailed up the Scottish coast until he arrived at Iona where, ascending the highest elevation, he determined that finally he was beyond sight of home. An odd take on the beginning of Christendom in the largest land mass of the British isles, as further saintly exploration took devotees around Scotland’s coastline to Lindisfarne on the eastern shore.
Anyway, ruminating on clear perspectives, especially those that are possible from a high vantage point, I’m thinking about looking into the future, wondering what is reasonably possible to know, what is mere conjecture, and what is wishful thinking. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a’gley’ of course, as Robbie Burns had it, but some forward thinking can be instructive. I’m thinking that there can be some joy in the relative safety of forward planning.
But we can’t future proof ourselves against unexpected eventualities. I’m reminded of the panic that threw our father’s plans into disarray, as the folks embarked upon their older, less capable age. Decreasing capacity will come to us all. So when the perspective is clear, it makes sense to try, at least, to organise our lives against the cloudy, misty days that the future will inevitably bring.
Oh dear, this isn’t quite the joyful perspective I had in mind when I started out with the image of the high hills on the far horizon. While we prepare for the challenging journey, then, we might as well enjoy ourselves on the way; this evening we’re expecting to revisit an experience from the previous century, when we were regulars at the Northumbrian Music Nights upstairs in the King’s Head, Allendale. Friday Music Nights at the Catstrand, New Galloway, are a feature of August, and we’re told that there should be capacity to sit and listen, drink in hand, during the session.
The great thing about mountain tops, whether physical or metaphorical, is that from the peak you can look both forward and back, to try to peer out to where you’re going, but also to see where you’ve been. No doubt the journey ahead will be in the same range of remarkable as the trek so far.