23 July 2009

The strangest cool place on the planet

I had a strange dream last night. I was walking down a thin road through a cold, gray mist. I could smell sea and dirt and stone. I had no idea where I was going, only that I had to hurry or else I'd miss the bus.

The it dawned on my dream self that I was on the main island of the Orkneys.

I woke way too early and rather disturbed. The Orkneys are not a place I dream about (usually), and not a place I'm eager to return to, although I must say it is one of the more fascinating places I've been.

I went a few years ago because I wanted to see a stone circle but not deal with the crowds and car parks of Stonehenge. And Orkney has two circles, nearly side-by-side, that only get a handful of visitors each year. It's a journey to get there. And despite it's strangely beautiful landscape and wonderful residents, it's not the most welcoming place on the planet. Even in June, it's damp, cool and fog-shrouded, creepy in a Gettysburg Battlefield sort of way.

Additionally, when I was there, night was only a few hours long (it was light at 11 p.m. and the sun sorta lingered on the horizon until it "rose" again by 3 or 4 a.m.). I hadn't been so twitchy since Mannie and I shared a pot of Ginseng tea years ago.

Oddly, the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness are the only non-creepy places on the island. The Ring is complete enough that when you walk around it - in a clockwise pattern, please - you get a sense of what it was supposed to be. Archaeologists still debate what it was used for. Recent work has shown a thriving settlement all around the Stenness Stones (about a 1/2 mile down the road). But there's a point where all habitation ceases. One woman was quoted as saying it was as if someone drew a line around Brodgar and no one crossed it.

If you ever get the chance to go, go. Because it's the kind of place that will haunt your dreams and wake you up way to early on a work day and make you wish you could be there.


Unknown said...

KEENA--I'm early on the computer this morning--the remainder of the day is too crazy. Right now, I'd love to be in the "foggy, cool, creepy place." Here, it's "overcast, hot, and as humid as the swamps in Louisiana." Celia

Maggie Toussaint said...

Good morning, Keena! I'm excited to comment at your new blog. Congratulations on getting this going. You are light years ahead of me. I plan to get a personal blog going at some point, sigh.

Anyway, I love to think about dreams. How cool is it that you dreamed of an ethereal place that brought you a sense of peace when you visited it?

Happy bloggin'!

LK Hunsaker said...

Oh, another "to see" place! You had me at fog-shrouded and light at 11 pm because it sounds like Scotland. ;-) Never mind that I don't like fog in general.

Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks for the comments. The Orkneys are off the northern most tip of Scotland. So they are very much like Scotland, and yet very much different. It's a way cool to place. Sometime I'll have to tell the story about my visit to the Orkney storyteller's house and what happened when the peat smoke set off the smoke alarm and she couldn't figure out how to turn it off.

Cheryl Pierson said...


I love your description. I probably will never get to go see these places for myself, but you really describe them vividly. While I was reading, I was thinking of "Brigadoon"--maybe that's why there's a "line around Brodgar." I'm so glad you've got your blog up and running!