Walk in Autumn Rain

It had rained steadily all morning – so we went for a walk. It was still raining when we got to Millbuies Country Park.

To be among old trees again, of all shapes and sizes! Taking in the odour of leaf mould, the vistas of bark columns and all the colours heralding the change of season! Sweet Chestnut (introduced from the Balkans in the 16th. C) contrasts with the still green Sycamore (another non-native).

Beeches hummed.They dappled the darker woods, shining golden or copper.

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Huddled under umbrellas, we missed the dripping canopy.

The good earth yielded underfoot, oozed at the bends and was carpeted with leaf litter. We listened to the patter of rain on leaf, land and us.

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Rain-dappled twigs hung from shivery boughs. Ducks kept their distance.

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Clear dark water harboured brown trout, all the way to the dam wall in this man-made fishing loch.

Leaves in a back-water eddied like golden scales from a magic fish.

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A robin piped and flickered through the bare branches. I’d missed the red squirrel.

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Golden, fairie birches flickered under the rain as we trudged down and up and around the water.

Gothic larches studded the hillside,while bracken, like feathers from a phoenix, fringed the track.

With lungs full of fresh, soft air, our body warm and feet dry, we headed home refreshed.

I look forward to walks like this.

Forests in the future?

Last Autumn in Scotland, I saw many more Oak trees have been planted in public places. You notice them easily for they hang on to their golden-yellowed leaves the longest. Many were cut down for ship-building in the 17th and 18th century. Ubiquitous mono-cultural fir plantations were established by the Forestry Commission in Scotland after WWI. The British war effort had almost run out of timber! I remember these dense monocultural woods, where nothing grows below and no birds sing among, which are now being cleared and replanted. This time, with trees native to the original Caledonian forest that once covered much of Scotland. For more info see Trees for Life founder Alan Watson- Featherstone’s talk on Youtube

This post is linked to Ann-Christine’s Photo Challenge #83 Future

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All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! blog by Meg Philp. Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

‘Flower’ of the Day: Cee’s OBC

What colour! Last week I took this photo in the warmth of the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory, Melbourne.

I’ll submit it as part of Cee’s Photo Challenge but that glorious pink is the plants’ bracts, not the flowers of the poinsettia.

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       It was a cool afternoon in June with occasional sun … great for some of us to stroll in the park and enjoy these Autumn avenues.

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I sought out a special ‘Fairies Tree‘ in the park. The sun came out again.

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First carved  in the 1930’s by Ola Cohn who wanted children and those people who believe in fairies to know there was a sanctuary for them, here. It was restored in the 1970’s and is such delightful whimsy …

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…. with lots of talking points and stories here.

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All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Calm Crossings

There are some timeless places, where we can escape the often harsh reality of the world. Fine weather can help. We caught the ferry across Loch Linnhe from Corran to Ardgour one autumn Saturday.

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I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept. (Robert Frost)

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Worth revisiting – Frost’s poem I could give all to time.

  • The moving novel Wallace Stegner wrote, aged 78, his last – Crossing to Safety, reviewed on the ABC’s ‘Tuesday Bookclub.’ (Click the green link for the 11 min segment)
  • A.B. Facey’s unforgettable autobiography, ‘A Fortunate Life‘ is a much-loved, Australian classic about hardship and loss, friendship and love. Published in 1981, when he was 87, it shows his extraordinary attitude, despite terrible times, not so very long ago.

Sea and sky help remind me that I lead a fortunate life, in a world where so many, millions?, cannot cross to safety.

It’s good to have time to relax and read and think about life … but of course, it’s actually what I do that makes a difference … so I better get on with it.

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Relax
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Edinburgh Revisited: To see ourselves as others see us

I visited Edinburgh with friends recently and have revised my knowledge of part of its history. The Old Town looked the same…

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As ‘unofficial tour guide,’ in the Thistle Chapel of St Giles Cathedral, I pointed out the defiant, Latin motto of the chivalrous Order of the Thistle which means,  Who dares meddle with me! (Such fighting talk! I had to put such defiance into a historical and military context – See Sources at the end of this post)

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I regularly had to explain signs or spoken expressions or customs that I have long taken for granted. Not only the Scots accent, but words themselves baffled my American friend. However, songs often work where speech fails, so I sang a favourite Burn’s song ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and explained what it meant.

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Brought up surrounded by Lowland Scots vernacular, at school I had to be careful not to use it. The Scottish Education Board insisted that children like me, from a working-class family, had to  be taught to speak, read and write ‘Proper’ English. It wasn’t till high school that I was given my Lowland Scots dialect in print, to study.

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) was one of the significant literary figures of 18th & 19th century Scotland. He wrote literary forms, crossing his local dialect with English – a ploughman with more education than most and a way with words. He reinvigorated our Scots’ national identity at the time and continues to do so. A contemporary of Voltaire, Goldsmith and Goethe, he wrote poems and songs which became, and are still, a expressive part of Scottish culture.

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Here’s my friend Naomi striking the pose in The National Portrait Gallery. (She too has a prodigious memory for songs from her childhood.) The success of Burns’ first compilation, Poems, Chiefly in the Scots Dialect, made him the darling of Edinburgh society in 1786. He lived here for two years before returning to his native Ayrshire.

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Before he died in 1796 aged 37, Burns had written hundreds of songs and set many to old tunes. These made him even more feted across Scotland and internationally. He was the ‘Pete Seeger’ of his day and thought, for example, ‘There is a certain something in the old Scots songs, a wild happiness of thought and expression.’ (Letter to Mrs Dunlop of Dunlop 1790)

Many of the poet’s ‘pithy’ phrases had that certain something, are still used like proverbs. I’ve heard conversations closed with a summary quote from Burns like “Aye – the best laid plans o’ mice and men …!” Auld Lang Syne is sung the world o’er.  Many think of Burns still, as ‘Everyman’: a typical Scot, working-class, humanist, lover of Nature and Freedom: a champion of common sense, astute and yet romantic: always imagining a better world.

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One of the bard’s gentle rejoinders comes from the poem To a Louse“Oh would some power, the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” (i.e. The first line of the last verse in English … for the complete poem in Lowland Scots, click here)

As a saying, it pulls me back to reality. It’s a hard phrase to beat – as is my fellow traveller’s blog post about her Edinburgh experience.  Please click “A Guid Crack” to read Naomi’s impressions of a first visit to Scotland’s capital city.

Blogs really are a good way to express different points of view and entertain readers at the same time. They are a gift that can help us see ourselves as others see us.

Thanks, Naomi. Here’s to Wild happiness and more singing!

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All text (except links) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sources : For more info, click these links

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle ( Wikiwand)

Mull, Brett, “Construction of Culture: Robert Burns’ Contributions to Scottish National Identity” (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 271. University of Colorado.

Nemo me impune lacessit ( Wikiwand)

Robert Burns“. Poetry Foundation. Chicago, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Scots Language (Wikiwand)

Todd J. Wilkinson, Robert Burns and Freemasonry. Alexandra Burns Club, 14 November 2016. Web

Allan Woods, Robert Burns – Man, Poet and Revolutionary . 22 January 2009. Socialist Appeal International Marxist Tendency 14 November 2016 Web.

Scottish Snippet 4: Highland Hens

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Driving off on a single track road one morning –  to see where it ends. Trees ‘marry’ when they meet over the road. It’s a lovely day for it.

We heard from locals in Glenelg that the views across to Skye are great from there. And there was a tea-house where we could stop before the return journey.

There was only a straggle of cottages along the bay. Some older that the rest. But where was the Tea shop? A local directed us to the last house.

The Tea Hut at the end of Corran village

The Tea Hut at the end of Corran village

It was cool in the shade so the wood stove was lit inside. It was snugly filled with armchairs and one big table. After cakes and an enormous pot of tea, I wandered past ruins, towards the loch.

Old houses - rock walls, some corrugated iron roofs - the last in the village

Old houses – rock walls, some corrugated iron roofs – the last in the village.

… and met the happiest of hens.

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Happy highland hens

They had a play-mate who bounded up and pranced among them.

Hens' playmate with Skye ahead

Hens’ playmate with Skye ahead.

She was a bit bemused when I told her she’s put them off the lay.

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Corran-end of the road Glen Arnisdale

The end of the road in Glen Arnisdale. Time to turn around wistfully … and drive back to Glenelg in time for a great lunch in the garden.

Another perfect Autumn day.

Story Twigs the Imagination! Text and photos by Meg Philp© 2016

Scottish Snippet 2: Nostalgia WPC

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All the Rowan trees ( Mountain Ash)  I’ve seen lately, in different parts of the country, are loaded with berries.

Gerard Manley Hopkins called this tree ‘ the bead-bonny ash’ in his famous poem we learnt at school entitled ‘Inversnaid.’

Locals shake their heads at such bounty, given the old superstition that it forecasts a hard winter.

Meanwhile  Autumn moves on a pace with cooler mornings.

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and burnished days.

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I remember walking among glorious trees, arm in arm …

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 … humming old songs. Nostalgia.

Nostalgic Weekly photo challenge

Story Twigs the Imagination! Text and photos by Meg Philp© 2016

Time kept on slipping



IMG_7532We had a great holiday last month. Friend  – storyteller, author  – Naomi Baltuck even posted a blog about it. We cruised on ferries. went for long walks, caught up,

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talked, listened and told, as well as heard, great stories.

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 Leaving Seattle, after a ‘history-making’ good time with Naomi is always hard.

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 I’d had an awesome Autumn.

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Flying past the luminous, snow-covered Mount Rainier at sunset made me feel small and very fortunate.

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As the plane came into land that night at LA, I watched the vast spread of city lights twinkle below us. Where had I seen this before?

Here, is where my time slip began. Perhaps you remember this –  Los Angeles in 2019 – from Bladerunner

Arriving at the Tom Bradley International Terminal was awesomely disorienting. Hi tech designs, with huge video screens, columns of light flickering above, beside and ahead of me. I had to ask the man in the iStore where the Departures info was. That’s it, in the photo, three floors up on the left!

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(Photo taken by Praytino copied under CC 2.0 licence)

I felt so disoriented, I couldn’t focus … then … I heard my my name called from the heavens. “Meg Fillip, please bghajkkljd, lkajsd, ijnn, ooa, inmpe am cfoeee. Meg Fillip, please bghajkkljd, lkajsd, innj , ooa, inmpe am cfoeee.” That helpful man in the iStore said it generally meant you were being called to your departure gate.

I hot-footed it to the distant gate which was about as ornate as a temporary hangar.  The flight attendant took my Boarding Pass and handed me a new one, unfazed by my query as to why I had been summoned. (I do have a Scottish accent, so perhaps this was dismissed as unintelligible … I was a bit stressed.) So I sat there in the departure lounge, waiting, waiting …closed my eyes to wish I was back in those cool woods again.

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When I opened them, a woman was standing in front of me, staring. “Lee!” I squeaked. Here was  a fellow Aussie storyteller I hadn’t seen in years. “I heard your name called and I couldn’t believe this was you, but I see that it is!” she laughed. I was so relieved. We hugged.

She helped me break the announcement garble. Lee heard that someone with my name had left something behind in Security. I looked around me and froze … no cabin bag …  quick march back there.

No. They hadn’t blown it up. My purple spotted, unlocked, blue carry-on was intact. A weary supervisor put down his coffee and sandwich, got it for from a back room for me – no trouble.

What a sense of relief … my feet were back on the ground again. I took this reassuring photo as I passed the bookshop. (They’re reading a book about puppies.)

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Well, I flew home safe … but not that sound. No sleep and in the dark, my mind skewed through time – dreams, images, words and background noises,  all melding together like a shimmering, Munch scream …I was encased in a swelling gum bubble showing flickers of story on the inside …

In Scottish folktales there’s lots of instances of characters slipping in time. I have never really thought about them being so disorientated … being ‘away with the fairies’ –  a hundred years pass by in a night of fiddle-playing for the fairy folk, or a man with no story to tell has a dream, or one goes exploring in a cave …

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or venturing out in a graveyard one night to visit the land of the dead. This takes the main character three hundred years, in the Italian tale One Night in Paradise. When he returns, there are strange buildings where his home used to be.

In the Irish legend of Bran’s Voyage, the sailors think they’re gone for three years, not for hundreds! When they return, the men are warned not to set foot on dry land or else!  One sailor steps off and he turns to dust. The ship and crew are doomed to sail the oceans forever. What a fate!

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Magpie in my Illawarra Flame tree

I woke up to soft light and the calls of familiar birds greeting the dawn. Later, as I walked my usual route around by the creek, the Jacarandas confirmed it is Spring time in Brisbane. I was on home ground.

Jacarandas early morning

Jacarandas early morning

I’m not “away with the fairies” now but the air is heady with the scent of Star Jasmine, and Mock Orange. And the strongest perfume of all, comes from a bush where the flowers are purple when they first open, then fade slowly with each passing day, till they are white, commonly known as

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Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow!

In the inimitable words of the Steve Miller Band, Time keeps on slipping!

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All text and photos by Meg, except Praytino’s photo as  indicated.

Some stories I’ve told featuring time slips –

One night in paradise in CALVINO, Italo. Italian folktales.

The Man with no story to tell in DOUGLAS, Sheila. The King o the Black Art and other folktales.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License