RS Kendle poetically examines the figurative and literal landscape of the north of Scotland, tracking a return home along the iconic A96.
The driver scowls at my ticket, “A return to Aberdeen? You’re far from home.”
I look out at the unfamiliar landscape, a mosaic of sandstone and ponderous clouds.
“Yes. Yes I am.”
I sit back and watch the horizon unravels before me.
Swathes of dull golden fields punctuated by sandstone cottages that cling to the roadside.
My bones ache for something hardier.
The bus wheezes its way through the hills, groaning with each new incline.
We have been navigating this inhospitable terrain for some time now,
I am immune to its grumbling.
Eventually the landscape yields.
The bus sighs in relief as it snakes its way through the water-logged valley
Parallel to the stream that carries yesterday’s rainfall down to the sea.
The delicate ribs of the river bed poke through the frothy currents,
Side winding though miles of sickly, brittle heath.
The bald granite picked clean.
Soon the hoary husks of cottages start cropping up amidst the abandoned farms,
Slabs of rough granite collapsing from decades of neglect.
We have crossed that invisible border, that geological phenomenon I cannot name.
I don’t need to read the sign ahead. I already know I am home.