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A Lucky Sprig of White Heather

Author: Margaret Bowman

When I was a wee lass, I went to visit the Isle of Skye with my parents. Oh, it was magical, being surrounded by foam topped seas and the foreboding black Cuillin Hills. Some days, it was depressingly dark and gloomy with drizzle and I used to think that the island was having a moody spell. Yet other days, when the sun split through the clouds, the views from those austere hills were stunning and brought out the vibrant colours of the landscape from the shadows. The sunlight also brought out all the colours in the clear waters of the fairy pools and even the sheep roamed freely, appearing contented with their lot.

I remember one day, hanging over the Fairy Bridge for what seemed like hours, pleading for these elusive souls to come out and speak to me. They never did and I thought they were hiding among the rocks or doing their washing in one of the many waterfalls around. I had a vivid imagination – I still do – but there is something inspiring about that special atmospheric place.

The sight that stirred me the most though, as we travelled around the island was the beautiful heather cascading down the hillsides right up to the road verges in a bright purple carpet of regal vibrancy. A real feast of beauty. One day as we were driving along a single-track road, we had to stop in a “Passing Place” to allow the on-coming car through, and from my window I could see a spot of white that peeked out amongst the vast swathes of purple hue. The tiny random patch of white that caught my eye was white heather, considered to be very lucky.

My father went out and clipped off a few sprigs of purple to tie onto the radiator grill of the car which was typical of visitors to the Highlands and Islands at that time. I collected my own small sprig of white heather to keep for the promise of good luck!