The Bitter City


Winter has returned to the City of Edinburgh. This morning its inhabitants woke to a fog that wreathed the Castle Crag in ethereal tendrils and shrouded Arthur’s Seat with white silence. The wind that blew in from the Firth snipped at exposed ears and cheeks and snatched yellowing leaves from gaunt bark, scattering them vindictively across streets and parks. Friends became strangers, wrapped up in gloves and scarves, coats and hats. Grey and black, the city crouched and shivered along the spine of the Royal Mile, while the sky sought to match what was below with a frost-slicked, stony quality.

To a stranger, Edinburgh would seem a grim place on a day such as this, exuding the wonderfully uncompromising, Calvinist heart that beats slowly, deep within its oldest stonework. But I have seen these same streets steaming beneath a cloudless blue sky, ruled by a midsummer sun. I have seen these bare and broken parks green and choked with grill smoke and sweat-streaked loungers. I have know long, lazy days and short, balmy nights.  In the past six years I have seen all of Dùn Èideann’s faces, and they are all fair to me. She is my home, and in today’s bitterly cold embrace I can still feel all the warmth of her love for me.


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