Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Real Castle in the Air

The phrase "Castle in the Air" comes from the title of a memoir written by my grandfather, the Scottish poet Charles Richard Cammell. Years ago, I took up the phrase as a focus for my creative and professional life, reveling in the notion of "castles in the air," imaginative fantasies that can lead to amazing and soul-nourishing works of art.

When I find objects with this same essence, I try to bring them with me either into my home or into the store to share with the world. When the objects prove too large to carry--such as an actual Scottish castle--a photograph must suffice.

I took this picture of the indescribably gorgeous Eilean Donan Castle several years ago, and it has been an inspiration in my creative and professional life ever since. Standing on an island nestled between Loch Alsh, Loch Duich, and Loch Long, the castle was once the refuge of the religious hermit St. Donan. It was a stronghold for Clan MacKenzie from the 13th century until its destruction at the hands of the English in 1719.

The castle lay in ruins for nearly two centuries, until John MacRae-Gilstrap and Farquhar MacRae (perhaps ancestors of our own John McRae?) reconstructed it between 1912 and 1932.

To me, Eilean Donan Castle is the Castle in the Air, the way it seems to float above the earth. Its setting, its history of drama, and its rebirth as Scotland's most beautiful castle never cease to inspire me.

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