Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Scotland: Lunar Epilogue

My second excursion into Fife was on Sarah’s bicycle, and was also late into the evening. By my reckoning, I had run further than I had ever run at one stint. Therefore, I should be able to cycle much further than I could run. I took the same route, enjoying the ease of my travel across the bridge and glad not to pass anyone on the narrow pedestrian causeway. Water stretched out in a black expanse to my right, whispering tales of Perth and its history, and to my left, where the North Sea looked back at me with its thousand-mile stare. The tiny lights on the shores of Fife stood like cheery guards above every door.

I bore left onto the paved bike trail that paralleled Newport Road, hoping that the tiny LED light affixed to the handlebars would be brilliant enough for me to make my way without vaulting over a curb. I passed the small tourist rest stop and the last of the streetlights and continued on until I was forced to slow down to be able to make out the edges of the trail as it followed the road. The grade seemed to slope gently downhill toward the water, which lapped peacefully several hundred yards to my left. After navigating some gates and detours, strategically placed to guide cyclists through construction, I began to consider the fact that I was not tired. I would eventually have to turn back, because I would ride all the way past Tayport and out onto the immense sandy promontory that lay at the edge of the forest on the shores of the sea. Either that, or I would ride all the way to St. Andrews. Neither prospect bore the hallmarks of responsibility, but I couldn’t help but think about the beauty of sitting alone on the forgotten beach until dawn and watching the seals come up onto the land and peer at me warily. As I stopped to consider whether or not to turn around, I chanced to look back toward Dundee. Above the Law and slightly to the left, hanging like a crescent emblem of war and peace above Lochee, the moon was draped in a deep ruby blush. I stood there on the lonely road, and she slowly sank behind the northern horizon, drawing to her the ocean and the years and the minds of all men quiet enough to look. Her uttermost tip went down just above Bruce’s house, and I wished that he was there to see it. I decided that I would turn back, but not before I had gone as far as this tiny road would take me.

The bike path left the side of Newport Road and plowed on down the coastline, beneath trees that further shaded the already dark track and made every sound stand out in my ears. I passed homes that glimmered through the trees and a lighthouse that stood oddly dark on the beach. The trail lead up back into the streetlights of Commonty Road and seemed to terminate near a small graveled parking lot, next to a grassy landing where a park bench sat empty. A sign said, “Danger: Steep Cliffs.” I got off the bike and walked to the rail surrounding the tiny park. Gorse bushes grew persistently on the cliff face and shielded the shore below from view. So many of the kids we had dealt with that week came out of apathetic or malevolent situations. Many boys of ten and eleven already had a keen sense of streetwise bravado that made them feel safe as they balanced on the edges of aloneness and fear. The girls were greeted by pop culture that told them that their identity was merely sexual. The wisdom of the day spoke in languages of haute couture and catchy guitar riffs. Entertainment is a jealous queen. Across the estuary, an oil rig was being built, its scaffolding highlighted from beneath by a halogen glow. The one thing we all seem to agree on, the preservation of our planet, is a litany of concern over that which will burn in the end. What of that which remains? I wondered about Knoxville.


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