Here is one of the many reasons that Scotland has been calling to me my entire life, in my dreams and waking hours. These are the Callanish Standing Stones, which were placed by Neolithic humans sometime around 2900 BCE. These are among the oldest archaeological structures on Earth!
The image below has nothing to do with luck. The entire time we spent on the Isle of Lewis, it rained. Not just heavy rain that soaks you to the bone, but the kind of rain that seems to take your very breath away, obscuring your vision, and making you question your sanity being anywhere outside of four walls and a thick roof. We arrived off the ferry to the Outer Hebrides in late afternoon, and once we found our hotel in Stornoway, we set out in our rented car in search of the stones. Even though it was raining quite heavily then, I didn't want to chance that it might be raining even harder the next day before we left the isles (and yes, it sure was), so off we went to see the incredible history that beckoned across the Isle of Lewis.
We took a lesser-travelled road out there, and could barely see out the windshield, much less the narrow track just wide enough for one compact vehicle to traverse. We were able to make out the Callanish Stones standing strikingly atop an incline long before we reached them. I was so excited! But getting out of the car was a different matter. I could barely open the door for the battering wind. The rain seemed to be mocking and laughing. My camera seemed to have a large sad eye staring at me, imploring me not to take it out in such conditions, even wrapped up in a clear plastic garbage bag as it was. (That's right, I only carry the most state-of-the-art equipment with me when I photograph. My camera is also most decidedly not top-of-the-line, by the way. I cringe when someone says "you must have a nice camera!". I do not. Cameras are only tools, virtually useless unless used with experience. PSA over. Back to the story.) We had travelled overseas and spent many hours and pennies to get there, so we were going out in that muddy sheep field to see those stones, no matter the weather. Besides, there were absolutely no other people about, which is extremely rare at such a famous monument!
We exited the car, and though it seemed impossible, it rained even harder, and the wind made even glancing upward painful. I wanted to cry. We had come all that way, and I couldn't even look up at the stones, let alone photograph them. My husband tried to shield me as best he could with his raincoat while we shuffled our way around, me snapping regrettable photos when it seemed safe. At one point, the pouring sheets of water let up into a fine spray mist, and I exclaimed, "I have just seconds!", and ran around the circle firing off shots. I had been right, this only lasted a few seconds before heavy rains returned with vengeance. We managed to walk around all of the stones, but then ran for the dry interior of the car. We sat inside for a long time, hoping the rain might abate, but finally I had to admit defeat. We drove away from the area and just before the stones disappeared in the rearview I said, "Watch, now that we are leaving, the sun will come out."
Moments later, there was a change in light on the dark clouds in front of us. I was yelling, "go back!!" to my obliging husband (he's my hero!) before I even turned around to confirm - the sun was indeed peeking through the clouds, and though it disappeared again right away, it was going to do it again soon - there were holes in the clouds showing sky underneath barreling across the landscape with awe-worthy speed. We arrived back at the stones in pouring rain with slate skies, but I jumped out of the car and ran, sheep scattering before me, into a position where I might catch some sunlight hitting the centre stones. I waited crouched under my coat, constantly keeping an eye on those hollows of hope in the otherwise despairing cloud cover.
The sun did not show itself completely again for a long time - it teased and danced, making the surrounding grey-blue light brighten and fade as the clouds thinned, but did not break apart. I almost gave up again. I could see the bands of black rain coming for us across the hills and loch. And then, one moment in time at Callanish, the sun broke through the storm, and illuminated the centre stone which has been standing there keeping vigil for thousands of years, and we were there to witness it. I will never forget this moment, or this day, or how the rain felt so incredibly beautiful on my face when it embraced us once more in another moment.
One Moment In Time At Callanish