A Desirable Residence

There’s nothing like a cold, damp, blustery day to make you long for a cozy, warm shelter.

At Sand, on the Applecross peninsula, there is a huge rock with large overhang on the lee side. On a blowy February morning, it offers protection from the winds that drive across the Inner Sound of this North Western shore.

But it is hard to imagine this place as your “des rez,” as real estate people call it –– your desirable residence.

Yet habitation on the site has been dated to over 7500 years ago, when a collection of about 50 people lived here. The nomads would have had fish and shellfish in abundance, as well as birds and bird eggs, wild boar and deer. Archaeologists have found a dump of shells (a midden), tools made from antlers, and “pot boilers” –– large stones that were heated in a fired and dropped into a pot to cook food.

I’m relieved to know they had something warm to eat on days like today.

I walk down to the water’s edge. At low tide, rivulets of salt water stream back to the sea across a huge expanse of red sand. At the sea’s edge I can just make out something in the water. I watch and shapes form. There are heads bobbing off shore! More and more pop just above the waves and I realize it is a “bob” of seals, about 50 of them. Clearly they have found their own version of a “des rez,” filled with an ample supply of fish.

For my part, I’m relived to know that for us twenty-first century Homo Sapiens there is a cozy warm shelter further up the road. We tuck into the Applecross Inn for a local pint and some of the best Scottish Salmon I’ve ever had.

We’ve come a long way in 7500 years.

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her book THESE ARE NOT THE WORDS was published in April 2022 by Groundwood Books. Previous books include The Pact, (Red Deer Press) which was listed on the 2017 USBBY Outstanding International Books List; selected for the 2017 ILA Young Adults' Readers Choice List; Nominated for 2017 Snow Willow Award; and listed in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at http://www.amandawestlewis.com/ Photo Credit: Marianne Duval

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