Tuesday, 30 October 2012

TRACK*works: Autumn Song.

TRACK*works: Autumn Song.:  Glorious Decay. Autumn  Song. Pines, the ancients oblige the red squirrels, slowly turning to meet the same rich colours. The t...

Autumn Song.

 Glorious Decay.
Autumn  Song.
Pines, the ancients, oblige the red squirrels, slowly turning to meet the same rich colours. The trees are dripping with the most beautiful golds and reds, a portent perhaps. The squirrels are busy, however do they remember...?

It has been so so long since I got to walk and sit on the old railway line. I miss it and despite there not being much sun for pretty photographs, we went along this weekend so see the changes. There have been  some pretty dramatic nature-born happenings. The entrance to my little den was completely blocked by a huge old tree, blown down by a storm. Sort of sad, but an old man who lives nearby had cleared the track itself so walkers could still do the walk to the village of Avoch, effort worth its use as he now has enough firewood for the next year or at least once it is not longer green. We have been along and collected some of the small limbs for kindling and there is plenty left to enrich the forest floor. The same storm had brought down several more trees.

I took a box of woodland wild flower seeds to scatter recently - a little pay back - and I shall start filling my hidden bird feeders soon. While due to lack of transport or wicked dark weather this summer, I have not been able to visit the track, I have been reading books on walks or walking (some of which are listed below and highly recommended).  I love finding writers that echo in their craft, the feeling I get from walking and being silent within the found ways, walks, woods, beaches;  the effortless meditation easily wrought.

I urge you to read the reviews  for both these books, for unlike my daughter, whose excellent reviews can be read at The Mountains of Instead, I lack the  skills to entice you. I will say I got very different things from each title; Robert Macfarlane writes exquisitely, he made me want to walk and walk and walk, as I did when young. I used to do midnight hikes across the Pentland Hills to Flotterstone and I have walked from Sligachan to Elgol. Now that I am less fit, these books both feed my yearning and my love of walking in the natural world. Mcfarlane sets out much as Laurie Lee did many years before, to just walk out. You can almost feel the crunch of his feet on snow or  hear the gentle squelch and feel the  slight tingle of fear as he finds his way along the edges of ancient mud flats. He follows ancient sea routes to St Kilda in the company of Ian Stephen, someone we knew well when we lived in the Outer Hebrides. In fact, he meets and talks to many folk we knew and counted as friends while living there, they share his interest and are very knowledgeable of routes and ways. McFarland writes with a tenderness and grace and in one place a certain terror; do read 'The Old Ways' if you can.

'The Idle Traveller', a smaller book, just urges one, in the nicest way possible way, to travel slowly. I agree with his premise that if we get there (wherever 'there' is) by plane, we are processed and really don't 'travel' at all, we are processed then arrive. Go by train, walk and listen... travelling need not be a chore, stressful to implement, but a joy of discovery and happenstance. Keiran, like so many philosophers and writers, helps us to know that the getting there can be just as worthwhile as the arrival, the more so for taking your time.

Golden reflections  near Loch Morlich

Now back to the old Railway line between Avoch and Fortrose. Slowly giving up its autumn secrets once more, a slow reveal. Above, the usually muddy rutted path on to the track is now covered by purest gold, pine needles. How wonderful if all that passes could have such a burst of glory before it dies.

Golden glory in decay, a bright portent of the rest to come.

What  a joy it is to talk a small child into the woods so a  blizzard of blown leaves falls, flits and fluttering  about her  yellow hair.
What a privilege it is that my father taught me to see and hear the wild world and to love  and cherish it. I fear there may be little to pass on but the memories of wild and stunning places. We are derelict in our caretaking, it is to our peril if we don't enjoy and protect.

Mila (whose name means 'Glory') walks on paths of gold, we gather kindling and memories.

The autumn song, the fanfare before rest, is the seasons' glory and delight. Walk, see and write prettier words than me, get out there, feel the leaves from the shaken branch dance about your head, simple pleasures for complex times.

Monday, 28 May 2012


Hello there! it's been a long time but I thought I would share my spring trip to the track with my granddaughter Mila. I always think not much will have changed, but the place has a way of surprising you. The first thing I noticed right at the beginning of the track before the kissing gates was the structure above. I love this tree house; it doesn't look particularly safe but that's whats great about it. It's actually quite solid and accessed by way of a rope ladder. Can't you just imagine the fun to be had and where else could you find a play house that smells of pine and has a view of the sea...

We introduced Mila to the smells of the track; the rich greens of the undergrowth and the pungent odour of wild garlic. Many years ago when, I knew no better, I was walking along a woodland path and saw some lovely white wild flowers and as they were in such abundance I thought I would take some to my soon to be mother - in- law; well I did not endear myself to her one little bit, I has no idea it was wild garlic and as I had a bad dose of hay fever had no idea that it stank the whole house to high heaven. Of course nowadays one would never take any wildflowers, smelly or not.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Come out little tree...

Come out little tree, I know you are in there somewhere.

I once said to a friend that I thought the ivy looked beautiful, they took exception to this saying that the ivy strangles the host tree and therefore made it ugly. I have to disagree, the tree is still there underneath, it is still beautiful and I think quite lovely with its dress of green, it is all part of the natural process. It's a type of arrogance to say it should not be just as it is. The old railway line is just doing its own thing, if only all woods and all forests everywhere could be just left but we always have to think we can manage these places and so often in doing so destroy. But then perhaps this is part of our natural process, it's all about balance and acceptance.

When I left the house to go to the track there was an inch of snow in the garden and a lawn full of fluffed up birds waiting for food. In the image above there are traces of snow but with it being south facing and by the sea you have to get along there very quickly after snow falls to catch it in photos. As you can see the track is almost bare, there is woodrush and some evergreens plus of course the various types of ivy. One of these days I shall give you some names of ivy and their meanings. The photo below is in fact not the track but the forests near Aviemore just a few miles down the road and still holding lots of snow even the beach at Loch Morlich was white instead of sandy yellow.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Leaf by Leaf.

Leaf by Leaf
the wind
tears away autumn.

by john tiong chunghoo.

Hmm...  he claims this is a Haiku, I don't agree; strictly speaking it is not, but it is rather lovely and unless am inspired by the end of downloading the tracks offerings this sunday, it will have to do... but I challenge all readers (yes, all six of you!) to write me an autumn haiku..three lines, 17 syllables, five each line, yes yes I know you all know that but just in case...I shan't be at all worried if I don't get any contributions, just a thought. Sya has such good ideas to get folk reading or interacting with her blog and she has hundreds of followers.
I was struck how lovely the track was today and how I wished we took a leaf (no pun intended) out of nature; it dies down for the most part with such grace and such beauty. All along the path leaves in different stages of dying were like jewels. The old fence post above, slowly returning to source but stunning.We see it every year, knowing there is a kind of rebirth. I fear dying less and less, if I ever did that is, for each autumn I love that it always brings a sort of understanding of things.

There was no sun today but walking along was sheer pleasure, the wonderful crunching of feet on millions of gold leaves, there had been no rain so they were crisp and crunchy, this weekend last year there was thick snow and it was an altogether different crunch of feet. I have no idea if I could have eaten the mushroom above but it was huge and lovely and deserved to stay just where it was.
this photo does not do this lovely leaf justice; every one of the leaves on this tree was in a different stage of decay, had it been sunny this one would have looked luminous such was its papery thin skin, hmmm do leaves have skin, I think not.
You know I have no idea why I write this blog (but then, why does anyone?) This walk matters to me and my father tried to teach me look at nature and that the closer I looked the more I would love it and want to protect it. Of course, when he was trying to do this I was not in the mood for listening, but I do understand. Age brings a wisdom that I am not clever enough to articulate. I pick up a stick for the fire and move on, lugging camera and bags of kindling. It is so warm I have no coat.  I fall and cannot easily  get a grip to get up; but there, right next to me almost at ankle level, is a tiny bunch of black berries. I must have passed them lots times today but had not noticed them.
Nearly done... it's just my sunday walk really, but it has given me so much including being exhibited and having a whole day on a photo shoot by a acclaimed scottish photographer for a book I was included in. It has given quiet moments when I have missed the islands to a point of grieving and of course it has hidden me in plain sight when I really have been grieving or just wanting peace and quiet. I have seen deer and owls and hedgehogs and lovely people. It has taught me really look at what is around me and that, of course, we are not finished yet.
I liked the look of a painting in this photo of a young man walking along the track; it was so quiet  I could hear his footsteps for a long way as he walked towards avoch.
so there we have it; the old railway track today, still holding on to some green, some birds, some heart. I think this is a haiku..the best i could do for now-

Leaf on leaf falling
this tree and that softly weeps
yellow tears, the green clings


Sunday, 30 October 2011

turning .

How I miss my once regular visits to this old railway line, it was the weekly visits that allowed me to watch things slowly change, I felt in tune with things here and that they were in turn in balance.
Now I am away for weeks and i come back and already the odd splash of early colour seems to exclaim and emphasis the loss I feel. Its like when I hear a choir on radio or tv or see people passing my door on their way to Dingwall Choral , I sang with them for about 15 years, I miss this too for these two different pastimes where my souls salve, like the sea, like the wind.

I found the fallen feather just past the kissing gates, it looks as if it is floating on a very still pool ,it is not. My intellect tells me it is not a message, it is not from someone saying "I have not forgotten you, look I have sent you this white weather" There are no white birds here on this track, I look around for evidence of  a clash of birds, or bird and fox, there is none. So I will take my message as this day is important, a birthday for someone no longer living, no longer living except in this heart and others.

As I get older I think more of shadows, there was a beautiful shimmering shadow on our wall, except that a shadow cant shimmer or glitter but the movement was of shimmering leaves. Is it real I asked a soon to be four year old. "yes" she said.
I think about shadows and wonder if they are real. At this time of year when we  are told the veil between realms is supposed to be thinner, I think of shadows. I was taken by this leaf so pretty in its decay, almost heart shaped but not. At this time of year I think of shadows and of the found fallen gift.

till next time.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

autumn is on us.

It is so long since I have been here, the track is still lush green and with that warm vegetation smell, nothing much is turning brown or golden yet, not here at least but today  the wind is brought golden leaves leaves down. I returned the track today and noticed that yellows were appearing and shone out even in the grey light. The birch leaves are just beginning to turn. below the old railway bridge that my grandchild likes to shout her name under to hear the echo,its hard to believe that huge steam engines used to thunder aove her head.
the photo above is just to show the wonderful texture of some of  the trees that appear very old but in fact from their position that they can be no older that 57 years, the old railway line closed in 1954, the year i was born,there are still signs of the old line though...

tick tock the old clock ticks to golden bit by bit and very soon.