Scotland – Over Heathery Slopes

The next morning Mr. Henderson and I rode be-fore breakfast up the mountain to get the view and see the hill sheep. Early though it was, we met small cartloads of hay drawn by big, sleek, fat Clydesdales ; we saw men in the fields beginning their harvest; the air was like wine or finer, and the sun bright. Fields reached a little way up the lower slopes of the mountain ; then began the heather. Heather is a low shrub, growing in a dense mat about a foot high. It excludes all else when it gets possession. Now it was covered with the delicate pink and purple blooms, each one a little bell, all making great sheets of color, sometimes acres in extent. Then there were acres that were a brownish-green and acres of grass between which were vividly bright green. When a painter hands you a view in the Scottish mountains do not presume to criticise its colorings; he has found them all, and could have found more by looking at a different season, when there were acres of golden gorse and of yellow broom, for instance. We saw the Black faced ewes with their great cross-bred lambs, from Border Leicester rams. They looked larger than their mothers, and were industriously cropping the dewy grass or stopping now and then to nibble the purple honey-flavored heather blooms. Sheep eat a good deal of heather, on occasion; it is a mainstay in winter. Hives of bees set down in the heather were full of activity, and heather honey was rapidly being stored. As we rose higher and higher a glorious panorama outspread below us. The valley we had left lay at our feet, a checkerboard of fields, green or golden, with masses of dark forest, and with stone villages miles away. We gained the summit at last and looked over the other side at another marvelous valley, much like the one we had left. The great river Tay shone in the sun and striding across it was the giant bridge that leads to Dundee. It was all far too lovely and glorious for me to put into words. It explained a lot to me, too, of the reason for the passionate love of the Scots for their homeland; of the strange mixture in the Scot of stern practicality and sentiment. It told me some-thing of how it is that Scotland has sent forth steady streams of good, strong, clean-living men and women—people with high ideals and noble resolves, who have done much. to influence the world for good.