Scotland has its own type of wild-ness. I love it — lived there for 10 years in my 20’s and 30’s, and my children were born there. Though I knew it was time to go, I wept when I left the glens, shores and hills of the Highlands. During that time I realized that wilderness was my life’s work. I met Ian Player in 1980, and we convened the 3rd World Wilderness Congress (1983) at Inverness and the Findhorn Foundation (30 miles east).
The Chairman of the 3rd WWC was legendary piper and forester Finlay MacRae. I met Finlay one evening at a dinner hosted by Sir John Lister-Kaye of the Aigas Field Center, north of Inverness. John is a real wilderness man, and equally a real character. As we started the meal that night, all seated around a massive wooden table in the Great Hall of his Aigas House, John said the grace —- 10 minutes, in Latin!
Sitting on one side of me was Finlay, and his wife Joey on the other. Upon learning that Joey was born and raised on the Outer Isle of Lewis, my (then) wife Kate asked Joey if she spoke Gaelic. I’ll never forget Joey looking at Kate and saying clearly but sweetly, in her lovely Scots accent, “My dear, I only happen to speak English!”
John Lister Kaye has remained a force for wilderness and environmental education in Scotland. I was heartened to see his latest book, At the Water’s Edge: A Personal Quest for Wilderness, and a good article by him in the Telegraph, “Why We Need Wilderness.” Good work, John, thanks for keeping it wild!