Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Machair, sheep and a sighting

'Machair' is a Gaelic term meaning 'raised beach' 
and its habitat is fairly unique to the Western Isles. 
The extremely fertile grassland 
is due in part to the seashell content of the sand 
which gets blown up onto the land, 
neutralizing the acidity of the soil.

The Machair in Iona 
has been cultivated since Columban times 
and is shared common grazing land 
on the West end of the island.

It even hosts an annual golfing tournament - the Iona Open - 
which is held in August.
Not that I watch those things,
 but I doubt the Golf Channel carries it.
Someone let me know if they do - 
because it would be worth watching just for the scenery!

It was also the opportunity 
to get up close and personal with sheep - 
and what would Scotland be without sheep?

One morning, BTW, I got up at 0430 to catch the sunrise 
(which didn't happen - although more rain and fog did!) 
and on my way back to the hotel, 
I saw a different flock of sheep at the North Shore.

because of how sheep eyes are structured 
you don't have to worry about 'red-eye- 
as much as...
 demonic possessed eyes! 
(And I wasn't even using a 'flash').
For some reason, these cracked me up... 
I think I look exactly like this 
by the end of a 'normal' week!

Another creature that touched my heart
and had a ring of familiarity to him
 was this one -
a lamb faceplant!

Before I forget -
for you geological types - 
South of the Machair
is a phenomenon known as 
the Spouting Cave,
a fissure in the rock 
at the Bay at the Back of the Ocean.

When waves of a suitable size hit the cave,
a vertical jet of water shoots up.

and hence, it's name.

Since coming home, I've read alot about Iona;
more than I had prior to going.
Manily because I was struck
by the different topography of the island
and the many unique conditions
on such a small (3.4 sq miles)

A paragraph in a few of the writings interested me:
 Iona is comprised of rocks made of Lewisian Gneiss. 
These are among the oldest rocks on earth. 
2800 million years ago, 
long before any living thing had a hard-shell, 
these rocks were formed deep in the earth’s crust 
and gradually rose to the surface. 
They were overlaid about 1000 million years ago by boulders, 
then by pebbles, 
sands and mud eroded from Himalaya-high mountains in northwest Scotland.
 There are no fossils on Iona

As they say on the island, "its geology reflects the beginning of the world."

Far be it from me to dispute accepted science
but, during a walk along the North Shore
at low tide,
I found this
as I was wending my way through rock formations,
looking for beach glass.
It's under water, so it's a bit harder to see -
but I distinctly remember thinking
"Well, I guess I know where some of the snakes Patrick drove out of Ireland ended up!"

When I went back the next day,
 with a friend, to show her, 
the tide was in 
and I couldn't find it again.
Just my luck...
I have the equivalent sighting of the 
Loch Ness monster - 
and I can't prove it to anyone!

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