She’s often there, perhaps more than she is not. Sometimes one barely notices her, other times she is vibrant and all you notice. I dropped Archie off at school last night (he’s delighted to be sharing a room with only one other this term) and as is my way meandered back through the Highlands enjoying the solitude, the dramatic weather and wildlife the night had to offer. There is one old estate house along my route, I seem drawn to that route, even thought there are others I could choose. It’s a big old unkempt place, half derelict, green slime coats the stonework and the gateway is stark and unadorned. The roadside is clogged with overgrown rhododendron which hangs and drapes over the wall.
This is where she stands, under the rhodies with a fine Highland bonnet on her head, a blackcock tail pinned to the fore. She wears a clan pin on the lapel of the heavy tweed jacket she sports, her skirt is, of course, tartan and her shoes inevitably brown and sensible. Her clothes I can describe, I could even find out the tartan if I could be troubled, but her face, I cannot see it in my minds eye, no trace, just an impression of age and nothing more
I first saw her in the half-light of a mountain winter morning. Stock still, rigidly upright she stands, waiting, for what I do not know. A traditional housekeeper, waiting to go into town. I saw her again, still waiting, still rigidly upright, a few weeks later, this time in the middle of the day. I have seen her on many occasions since then, at all times of day. Then I saw her in the dark, in the wee small hours, picked out by the headlights, standing, rigid, upright. Perhaps the rain which was slicing down obscured my vision or the dark altered my perception but I feel sure, certain indeed, that the lady was bone dry.