“The neighbourhood park became a desolate spread of mud and water, lit up at night by rain-streaked street lamps.” – The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
I’ve been here in Scotland for about three weeks and thus far have been quite unmotivated to create my own adventures, which to be honest, is very unlike me. Because the sun was finally shining, albeit through overcast clouds, I decided to visit nearby Strathclyde Country Park. I had been told by several Scots that the park was beautiful if I “fancied a walk”.
After a frustrating battle navigating the “round-a-bouts”, I arrived second-guessing if I was in the proper place. The sign read “Strathclyde Country Park,” this must be the right spot, I thought. It’s not like it was ugly by any means, just not what I expected of beauty coming from one of the most beautiful parts of the US (although a possibly biased view) in Central PA with sprawling mountains, flowing streams, and crisp blue skies. Perhaps they meant it was beautiful in the summer… because at least in my opinion, the park was not so in the traditional sense of natural beauty.
Grayish overcast clouds clung to what little sun fought to shine upon the brown, dismal loch. Leafless branches trembled in the chilling wind that created currents, propelling ducks across the waterfront. The grass was the only thing of color…kind of. A thick layer of brown mud fought to drown it out. It was as if the tips of the blades were sinking into quick sand with just their heads above the surface, begging to be saved. It seemed as though even the white swans had a brown tint to them.
Despite the lack of traditional beauty, Strathclyde Park offered an untraditional, picturesque air about it. Dogs excitedly pranced about through mud and puddles, their fur covered in inches of wet muck. For a brief moment, it made me wish I had a dog to bring here, although I wouldn’t want to be tasked with bathing it when I got home… (or for that matter, let that muddy mess in my car to get home).
And for another moment, I wished I actually was a dog, blissfully leaping into the loch after a tennis ball, swimming happily to shore to return the ball to my owner’s hand to be thrown once more. What a pooches’ paradise, I thought. It was a place the equivalent to a beachside resort for a human: relaxation, leisure, sport and members of the opposite sex to mingle with.
By the time I left, I had been splashed by so many pooches prancing through their paradise that my boots and jeans were covered in mud. So much so, you would have thought that I actually had been a dog flouncing around through the muddy gunk.