The dry river bed shimmered, glassy with sun haze. A few cattle – bony as xylophones – followed tribesmen, nudging at rocks, chewing tufts of crisp grass.
The distant outcrops were scorched barren, a thicket of acacias turned khaki by weeks of drought.
He tugged his scarf over his nose to fend off a sand squall. So different from home. And yet….
Through squinted eyes, the dry riverbed became the River Affric, the cattle shaggy Highland cows, bellowing across the Glen. The outcrops were the mountains of Kintail or Mam Sodhail, the only Munro he was ever likely to climb.
In the sting of sand he felt pricks of snow, on the wind he smelt the heather, the tang of loch water.
He’d never imagined he would yearn to feel cold again, to chip at ice with the heel of his boot.
Sighing, he walked on. Towards the acacias and a hope of home.
Written for Jane Dougherty’s Pictures and Poetry Challenge 3. Really enjoyed this one. The Turner just reminded me of the dazzle you see in a extreme heat, a mirage of a longed for landscape.
All the places mentioned – the River Affric, Mam Sodhail, the Mountains of Kintail – are in Scotland.
A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet.
And this beautiful beastie is a Highland cow otherwise known as an Aberdeen Angus.