"As I pulled on my swimsuit, I heard the sound that for me is the call of the wild." A John Muir Trust Member shares precious memories of sharing a special swim with two red-throated divers.
I live a long way from Assynt, but Assynt means home to me, home for my soul. It is moments of wonder, moments of wonder in abundance, that take me back to Assynt time after time.
There is a loch, a tucked away loch, which is always one of the first places I visit whenever I return. It is where I go to swim.
On a warm, sunny, July day I approached the loch from the west, with the majestic bulk of Quinag at my back. The loch was motionless, steely grey, and silent - but not for long. As I pulled on my swimsuit I heard the sound that for me is the call of the wild. No further than 50 metres from the edge of the loch were two red throated divers, calling to one another and seemingly calling to me to announce their presence.
I was thankful, filled with joy. They were oblivious to me, or so I like to think. I crept silently and unobtrusively into the water, and stood, the cold refreshing water lapping around my waist. And still the divers took no notice.
I lowered my body into the water and swam, swam with two red throated divers. They dived, came up, called again and took off to fly a bit further across the loch. Still visible through the naked eye though.
I swam and swam, relishing the cool water on my body, my face. Relishing the silence. Relishing the surrounding landscape. Most of all relishing sharing the loch with two red throated divers.
Eventually I climbed out of the water, sat on the shore with hot chocolate from my flask and a croissant, but still with my eyes on the birds even though they were just small dots now on the far side of the loch. Nothing else mattered to me just then. An hour passed like five minutes.
Lately, struggling from time to time with the effects of long Covid, life has been tough, but that hour or so was as precious to me as anything has ever been. Such moments of wonder are life affirming, essential, and if we pay attention they can wash over you day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
I walked away from the loch with an acute awareness of how important it is to hang on to moments of wonder, wherever and however we experience them. The world is a troubling place just now, or so I think, with droughts and floods, fire and melting ice caps, storms and severely hot temperatures, but there are always moments of wonder to be found and to be treasured. Thank goodness, they are precious beyond words.