a brief backward glance

(excerpt from trip book)

11 October 2005.
On a high-speed train ride from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh.

The train is traveling close to the coastline now– we are almost there.
There are parts where cliff walls rise up steeply from the sea, and there are parts where the hills gently turn to beaches. It looks cold.
Sometimes the green atop the cliffs is dotted with sheep.
(with sleep.)

There are trees every so often -out in the fields, in hedgerows- that remind me of the umbrella pines of Rome.

This country is punctuated with sheep like little tufts of wool growing out of the very ground; these rocky, angular hills. The Firth is an estuary; a vast grey-blue stretch that makes this feel like the edge of the world.

The train is slower now, we’re on the scenic part of the route; specifically labeled as such on the map. It drizzles out there.

Up here, the countryside ceases to look familiar; it looks both harsh and lovely. Everything is gold or green or brown, save the steely blue sea which disappears into the fog.

Here there is a great block of a factory, almost the same pale grey as the canopy of clouds- it looks like a grey box on the landscape; no windows. It interrupts the coastline suddenly, and strangely.

Here there are gravel pits.

Here, a cluster of stone red-roofed cottages, and more of those umbrella pine sort of trees. (they have those same Art Nouveau-minded branches.)

There is a great rock -huge!- out, away from the shore. It looks like a great fat sleeping bear. The mist hangs above the land and sea in swaths, like smoke hanging still in the air at a pub.

Some beautiful old stonework houses with white wood trim. Fairytale. Fairy story houses. A patchwork land. A hilly autumn country of greens and golds, rich brown soil-tilled fields that roll and dip.

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