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.

DSCF8620

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.

DSCF8630

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

DSCF8622

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.

DSCF8628

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

DSCF8640

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

<-<-<-<-<-<-<-<-<-<-<-

All text and photos by Meg

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

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

dscf3641

Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

dscf3656

Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

dscf3639

My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

dscf3651

What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of kms adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her boot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

—-

All text 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…

dscf5352

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)

dscf5370

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.

img_1102

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.

img_1287

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.

img_1232

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.

img_1371

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!

img_1122

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.

Feeling harmonious: WPC

I first saw Mount Taranaki (formerly Mt Egmont) over ten years ago. “Awesome!” I thought.

DSCF0471

I love seeing this “ ever-fixed mark.” It helps me get my bearings and draws me in like a magnet, every time I go back to NZ to visit friends. Mt Rainier, near Seattle, has the same effect on me.

 Once, at the end of a NZ holiday and feeling wistful, I had this view out the aircraft window. Just one look and I was on “Cloud Nine!” MtTartop (2)

Human beings, vegetables, cosmic dust, all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. (Albert Einstein)

Harmony

Text (except quote in italics) and photos by Meg Philp

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

Inside a Circle: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s challenge about circles had me determined to look from a different angle. I ended up on the floor, looking at a light fitting!

There’s an invisible, inspirational net inside a circle.

DSCF3074

Look closer.

DSCF3078

… and closer…DSCF3093

more circles inside a circle. This reminded me of a story –

An ancient Hindu myth tells of the all-powerful god Indra, the greatest creative force in their mythical world, how he lived in a magnificent place in the heavens. Stretched above him and reaching out into infinity, was hung an exquisite net, skilfully crafted. At each node, a multi-faceted jewel sparkled. Since the net was infinite, the jewels were too. And each jewel reflected all the others. Thus the smallest movement flashed throughout the net, glittering like stars across the heavens,  and on into infinity.

The first time I heard of Indra’s Net was at a workshop on “Science and Stories” at a National Storytelling conference in USA in the 90’s. It’s been at the back of my mind for a long time. My search for stories about sustainability have brought it forward again.

IMG_8525

As an storyteller, the story I choose to tell needs to have caused a similar net of connections in my thinking, to be meaningful to me, before I make a commitment to it.  As I tell it, later, orally, the listener can be making their own private connections. One image of a character, one action, can set off a chain of reactions in their imagination.

Now I see why it takes me so long to find a great story to tell. It happens when it makes lots of flashes of connection in my imagination!

IMG_8529

The story of Indra’s net reinforces the interconnectedness of all things, in nature, in this world and beyond, even in circles and especially in stories.

All text and photos by Meg.

Reference sources:

The Indra’s Net :What is it? Downloaded 01012016 by M.Philp

RAMSDEN, Ashley. Jewels on Indra’s Net in GERSIE, Alida et al. (ed.) Storytelling for a Greener World: environment, community and story-based learning. Stoud, Glos. Hawthorn Press, 2014.

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

Circle

 

 

 

 

 

Mohai Trio: Weekly Photo Challenge

When I was small, the photographer used to call out “Watch the birdy!”

A snazzy shot taken outside. Are these two … sisters / mothers / friends / nannies? Are they innovative? Did the kids get to pick where they sat? Did they sit in their favourite letter?  The ‘O’ kid would rather get moving.

IMG_0618

These figures are still looking out to the horizon, after more than a hundred years years. If only they could tell about the sights they’ve seen, about the people who carved them. Where did the museum find them? I must have read the signage but I can’t remember the name of their ships … the Honest Man … Pomona …. the Lucy Brown? Or ?

IMG_0624

Figureheads

What a simple pleasure to see boats, all trim and sea-worthy, all different shapes, colours, sizes, and uses: waiting to gently slip away. Who owns them? Does the young man who put the pumpkins on the prow, live on board?

What was your first boat trip like?

IMG_0647

I was three when my father took me out in a rowboat on a water reservoir at Glen Devon , Perthshire, Scotland.  The boat of glossy, golden wood had a little water slopping in the bottom.  The further from shore we went, the more I wanted to know how it got in. Sunlight sparkled up from the dark water.  My mother waved from the edge, and was getting smaller and smaller. It was a sunny, Spring day, they told me when we reminisced, years later. Sheep with their lambs studded the hillsides: their bleating filled the soft air. As I sat in the little seat facing my dad, I clung to one side, as he made the  oars rise and splash.  When we got into the middle of the reservoir, I started to cry for my mother, just like a lamb. The boat turned homewards.

All text and photos by Meg.

MOHAI is by Lake Union in Seattle.

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

Trio