Monday, April 21, 2014

Treasuring every single precious moment...because life can turn on a dime.

Joan, treasuring a precious moment.
This Easter Monday was another "blue sky Scotland" day and the perfect opportunity for test-driving the body after a couple of weeks of not getting out into the hills much. A rather annoying, non-specific internal source of inflammation had resulted in discomfort of sufficient nature that "outdoor pursuits" were significantly curtailed, which was probably just as well as it's been a busy time with pastoral duties.

Thankfully, however, an excellent local doc and the National Health Service, have been able to "hit the spot" with a short course of meds.

So today, with blue skies and warm winds beckoning, it was time to get back out into Cairngorms National Park...for the "hill performance test". Several variables needed to be met: close proximity to home in the event of "test" failure; reasonable elevation gain (714m) in order to provide an adequate physical "stressor" as the primary evaluation tool; and a small reward at the end (assuming all went well...or not). First choice venue: Return to Glen Clova, for the full Loch Brandy circuit - with the Glen Clova Hotel as start-finish point.

Feels a little like...Canada! :) 
It was simply a perfect day with the mountains rising on three sides, and very prominent, despite the haze. A steady cool breeze of about 30 mph, served as an excellent counter-measure to the heat buildup from the climb up.

Up on top, high above the loch, the winds died down and the sun warmed up the heather-covered moorland - and made for some fun, in the patches of "corn" snow!

It just makes you feel like...running! :)
There were quite a few others out today - there's a warmth in every greeting here, and there were lots of shared conversations, comparing notes on hometowns and the like. It was good to be back in the hills. And the body cooperated.

Cairn at top of Brandy.
The surface of the deep, cold waters of the loch glistened.

The loch...a long way down.
Tucked into the crags, the evidence of winter resists leaving this remarkable place.

More residual evidence of winter still, amidst the crags.
Having burned a few calories, it was time for a light lunch before heading back down.

A light lunch under a warm sun.
At the trail head, there would be a cup of coffee in the old hotel.

The hotel.
In the meantime, the (about-to-be-converted) Moderate Terrain Outdoor Pursuits Transport Vehicle (MTOPTV) patiently waited, amidst the daffodils and the lush green grass. ("Conversion" details to follow in a subsequent posting.)

Faithful MTOPTV.
The "hill performance test" was successful, the body "worked" again. To be honest though, in the grand scheme of things it was probably much ado about nothing. A pain in the body that cramped (albeit literally) hill walking is not to be compared with "real" suffering.

As a parish minister, I am often called to homes and hospitals where life "flickers" and then, sometimes ends. At such times, we all wish that there had been more time. Sometimes there just isn't. It's more than heartbreaking for the young victims and families of the ferry disaster in South Korea. Closer to home (back in Canada), it is impossible to imagine the anguish of the families affected by the unexplained act of violence in Calgary. The sadness felt there, reaches across both a continent and an ocean.

The expression, "life turns on a dime", has deep meaning. Why? Because life does, turn on a dime. One moment, life is full and vibrant and full of hope and possibilities. A moment later, it can be gone forever.

Equally sad, is the amount of precious time we humans waste - filling it with unnecessary anxiety, fretting, regretting, angry, wishing time away, wanting to be somewhere else, or someone else. We put in time, we waste time, we fritter it away, we ignore the passage of time. Yet, time is so precious.

It was good to be out in the hills again today. There was opportunity to think about the immeasurable value of time and the fact that no moment in time offers a second chance. Each present moment is all we have, and truly, all we can ever count on having. 

Embrace life, cherish it...moment by moment. It is infinitely precious.


Finishing this posting, an email arrived from a dear friend - a brand new "Nana". ("L" is also a hill walker and often comments here.) In the image below...a most precious moment in time.

Warmest wishes and congratulations to "G's" mom and dad, and to Nana L. 

Nana and "G" - a very precious moment.


  1. Good to see you back in the hills...surprised by the snow but then it is still April. Being thankful for every moment is something we all need to be reminded of. Life is so precious and so short.
    Nana L

  2. Thanks for that, L. There were just patches of snow but there's still tons in the mountains and they're still skiing at Cairngorm Mountain, at least until this weekend apparently. D.