This entire week, Monday to Saturday Morning I am teaching in ScotlandI’m six hundred miles from home sat at the kitchen table looking through the window of a farmhouse kitchen in the early morning. The house will wake up soon, there’ll be creaks and feet on floorboards and the sound of the water system gurgling into action. There’ll be shuffeling feet and slowly this kitchen will fill with breakfast eaters. The front room fire will blow itself alight. It’s like Gryffindor.
The dining room next door is attached to the large front room. At the head of the frontroom is a roaring log fire. At times like this, in the morning the living room has the warm smell of Burned wood, of silence. I’m at Moniack Mhoor with twelve students of around the age of seventeen. It’s the second day in the wild Scottish Highlands. The tutors, Laura Hird and myself inhabit a little cottage down a pathway from here.
It’s 7.30am. I’ve been awake two hours. Last night myself and Laura Hird read from our own books. Afterwards Colin, a student, opened his guitar case and to an enraptaudience one of the student chaperones, a storyteller herself, spun her web into the night. This group of young people from different parts of the highlands are starting to bond.
Earlier last evening I saw it. It’s a point in time, particular to Arvon courses, werethe strangers recognise each other - strangers in a house on a moor, away from home and writing in the wilds of their own imaginations. It was last night it happened the dinning table was surrounded by them. I was sat deep in a couch by the fire watching. They were falling over laughing virtually in tears at some joke or other. It was thatunstoppable stomach clutching laughter.
Look now, the sun's rising. There’s so much sky here. The only time I saw more sky thanhere was in Arizona. Thank the stars for sunlight and autumn and hills and racing winds and diagnonal sheep and pine forests and highland cows and the forest browns that are nearly deep red.