First, I imagine silence. A silence as black as a wet December night, as soft as the fur behind a cat’s ear, a silence that tastes of water and smells of the wind. I imagine a silence like this, and only then can I begin.
This is the opening of Imagining Silence, one of my River Tay stories which appears in The Man who Loved Landscape. It’s about a composer to decides to walk the West Highland Way (a long distance route from Glasgow to Fort William in Scotland) in attempt to make sense of her life and to recover her lost music.
Here’s a longer section from later in the story:
The miles slip by and my feet start to ache, but I begin to hear the things I hadn’t noticed in the city: wind and birdsong. The city itself slips behind us remarkably quickly, and we’re soon among woodland. But I can still hear the sound of traffic in the distance, and it isn’t until the second day that we leave it behind as the ‘Way’ climbs through wooded slopes and up the steep track over Conic Hill. This second day is harder than the first, the weather more unsettled, the wind stronger, the sky a tumbled layer of bruised stratus. I talk to some of the others and find that my tongue, like my legs, is initially stiff but eases off as the day goes by. The hill has spread everyone out, so we wait down near the shore for the slower members of the group to catch up. I move a little apart and listen to the sound of water on the shore, waves on pebbles, a stream in a culvert, and the soughing of wind in the pines. I begin to feel the shape of music forming.
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© Barbara Lennox 2005