Every Picture Tells a Story: Lake Menteith in the fading light of a winters night

Travel Poetry: The Crackling Thunder of Frozen Lake Menteith

I wrote this poem in 2011 during a particularly bewitching snow-storm on Lake Menteith in Stirlingshire, Scotland. I had borrowed a pair of old, worn out and blunt ice-skates that were a size too small. And together with my friend, we set out to skate on the lake and also record the audio of the majestic sounds of Lake Menteith rumbling and shifting under the weight of itself. With the increasingly fine weather that winter, the ice had begun to break up and become more flimsy. Although that didn’t deter us from embarking on a journey over the lake to record the main crisis point of the sounds, as the water battled with the ice metres below.

The sun had dissapeared and left a warm, fizzy glow although no trace or memory of heat remained. It was a cold landscape although far from being desolate, it was alive with the constant dripping and majesty of the frozen tree branches turned into icicles.

Every Picture Tells a Story: Lake Menteith in the fading light of a winters night
My friends and I out on Lake Menteith recording the ice sounds and ice skating. Copyright Content Catnip 2011

My friend and I recorded the sound. It is akin to a tightly bound metal wire rebounding upon itself, or the sound of a mysterious UFO shooting out a laser. I skated for about 2 hours that night across the frozen lake and visited abandoned monasteries on tiny islets in the lake and heard the otherworldly sound of ice melding with water in a cataclysmic symphony. Although I don’t have the audio she recorded, here’s another audiovisual extravaganza recorded in Sweden which I think you will enjoy.

Every Picture Tells a Story: Lake Menteith in the fading light of a winters night
Frozen Lake Menteith in Scotland during mid-winter. Copyright Content Catnip 2011

Rings of Saturn

I walked out onto the ice

The air collapsed and warped

sighed and bellowed

a fairly red-headed sunset

And below

the sound of a whale crying

in the sutures and cracks of The Atlantic

the sound of Saturn’s rings echoing

from across the solar system

my skates creeked and protested

made concentric circles

of a stonemasons drill

a figure eight eternity symbol

shredded and sewn

in striations across lilac velvet ice

I saw the endless horizon of darkness

The dancing history of my imagination

the ice warped like a hammer and anvil

erupted and roared

diametrically opposite to a bushfire

the alien moans of an alien race

deep beneath the loch

The dusk sky kneaded by invisible fingers

into dough yellow shortbreads

sticking to the alpine horizon

and purple mountain peaks

streaked with flirty adolescent stars

hazy highland ghosts

whispering the night in

We recorded the shadows, spectres and echos

planned to drill into the secrets

hear the sounds

see the paintings

feel the words come

next weekend

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