“I have stood at the brink of the falls, that thin line that separates eternity from time”
– Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still
As you may know, the quote above describes the feeling of awe and humility that washes over you when standing on the brink of Niagara Falls, with the sheer crush of water rushing its way over the ancient cliff face to the churning bowels below – it is a glorious and chilling sight – completely unique the world over.
Unique as the Falls may be, the description of that thin line separating eternity from time…that, I have felt elsewhere. On the edge of the Cliff of Moher in Ireland for example, or sitting on the cliffs of the Cape Breton coast, staring out at the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean seemingly without end.
What these places all have in common is that they are viewed from a great height, which is what I figured Ms. Buchanan was referring to in her description. When I went through my quote book today to come up with the perfect way to start this post, however, suddenly this quote spoke to me differently.
For me, the line between eternity and time was found when staring into the unfathomable depths of Loch Ness in Scotland.
I had been intrigued, to say the least, to visit this famous Lake I had read so much about throughout my childhood and teenage years. Though it seems anything and everything is capable of arresting my attention (I have always been incredibly curious), it has always been the places on this earth that exude a sense of mystery and timelessness that captivate me most: the ancient fairy mounds of Ireland, the colossal pyramids of Egypt, the remote temples of Tibet, and, yes, the murky depths of Scotland’s Loch Ness.
I am happy to report that, thus far, none of the locations which were highest on my “Must See” list have disappointed me yet, this one least of all. As Kristen and I embarked on our boat tour of the Loch on a particularly drizzly and cold day, the slate grey waters we encountered driving out before us in waves displaced by the boat were unlike anything we had ever seen. Beautiful and yet disconcerting in its unfamiliarity, the loch seems unspeakably ancient, its depths hiding more secrets than one can fathom.
Estimated to be 230m deep at its deepest, though this number is often contested, it is officially the second-deepest lake in Scotland. The depth and opacity of its waters, combined with their extreme cold which makes them hard to fully explore, have helped give rise to the belief that the Loch Ness Monster has not only lived there for hundreds of years, but that she is still there – and likely to remain hidden thanks to the innumerable hiding places her chosen home provides.
Rising up from the lake on most sides are steep rock slopes, interspersed with marching lines of trees, making any journey on the lake feel isolated and contained, despite the vastness of this body of water.
I don’t know about Nessie, though some of the stories I heard while on the lake seemed credible enough (certainly not the cheesy campfire ghost stories I was raised with), but the lake does seem to have a prehistoric feel about it. Regardless of how many boats may be on the water simultaneously, it manages to feel untouched and unscathed by humankind.
Useless Historical Fact #12
For me, the most amazing fact about the lake relayed to us – perhaps because our guide knew we were Canadian – was not even about the water but rather about the land surrounding it. Near the middle of our journey, our guide pointed out the cliffs on one side of the lake and asked us if they looked familiar. When we shook our heads, he smiled and told us they should – because they were Canadian! Or rather, came from the landmass that makes up Canada today. The Great Glen Fault, once upon a hundred-million years ago, give or take, spanned the land masses that now make up Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Newfoundland and the Appalachian chain in the United States. Essentially, the geology that makes up much of the Canadian Shield was right in front of us, an entire Ocean and a Sea away. Though I am not enough of a geologist (or any kind of geologist) to have really seen the similarities, just hearing they came from the same place made the lake feel just a little less cold and grim.
I can remember very clearly at one point wondering how I would feel should something happen to our boat, in the middle of the lake. Already a very shallow vessel, I experienced a crippling fear that should I end up somehow in the black waters, I would never make it out again. Though any death in the water would far more likely be due to exposure as opposed to being dragged away by an irate monster, it was the latter that I feared the most.
I suppose our short boat journey helped me to better understand what people mean when they say that large bodies of water must be not simply feared but respected. They are available to be enjoyed, to be sure, but they can be vicious and unforgiving if you do not afford them the respect they deserve. I, for one, have never felt more respect for the watery realm than I did while traversing the Loch in our tiny, speedy cruiser.
For all the terrifying depth and dimness of the waters of Loch Ness, however, the boat journey we took through it was nonetheless beautiful and unforgettable. I would go back in a heartbeat and, who knows, somewhere between eternity and time we might one day find Nessie.
Remember…Life is beautiful