One For the Road

Travelling Along Back Country Roads is the theme of this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge #158. Thank you to Beth for her post. You can visit her site here

Now here’s a story for you –

One cloudy Sunday afternoon I followed this single track road to get closer to Loch Tay (Tay in the Gaelic means “House”). Further down the road. I could see ruins down in the trees along the shore. Surely this had to be the old village of Lawers I’d heard about.

It was a fair slope down to the water. In the fields beside the track, there were a few cattle and on the other more sheep … who ran off as I approached … all except one. The dry-stane dyke has been waiting a while to be restored.

The loch is beautiful in a lovely part of Perthshire. Once part of the Breadalbane estates – the family that once held the largest landholdings in all of Scotland.

When I reached the shore, there was not a soul around. I soaked up the views, the cool air on my face and the stony earth at my feet. I couldn’t see any sign of a jetty. I’d been told steamships used to do day trips along the loch in the 1800s. Further east along the bank, I explored the ruins of the 1000-year-old village of Lawers.

Few walls stood amidst the hummocks of fallen stones and tangle of trees. The gable-end of a home still stood out. After the village church roof collapsed two hundred years ago, services were held within its walls. It’s said about a thousand people from the area would attend communion, many rowing across the loch.

It was so still, here. No birds sang. There was not a breath of wind. An occasional bleat from sheep reassured me a bit.

Just the day before, I’d heard that the village is haunted by a certain Lady of Lawers.

She lived in the late 17th century, was said to be gifted with Second Sight and when she died was buried under an Ash tree beside the kirk.

Soothsayer, Mary Campbell married and lived here in the late 17th Century, in this township on her husband’s farm. She became known as the ‘Lady of Lawyers,’ because of her wise sayings. Many of her predictions came true in time. Some caught my attention!

The feather of the goose will drive the memory from man.

Storytelling gatherings in people’s homes kept the community together. People knew their family history and the tales of their ancestors. Learning to read and write (education) meant that people lost the need to sit telling stories to others. They no longer felt that strong sense of belonging.

The mouth of the sheep will strip the land pf its people.

During the Highland Clearances of 1750 to 1860 many poor families here were evicted from their homes and the thatch roof burnt so they could not return.

The last person left this village in 1939. The land has been for sale since 2016. A real estate agent commented that they’ve had a lot of interest lately, especially from other European countries, perhaps because of CoVid…

Oh No! This reminds me of another of her prophecies!

Spend as you get, get as you spend. Save and for whom? Remember death!

Lady of Lawers

As the clouds began to darken, I had one last look at the loch. Saw the remnants of the pier for steamships in the distance and left … vowing to learn more of Mary Campbell’s times and story.

Sources

CAMPSIE, Alison in The Scotsman, September 7, 2020. The Village that stood for 1000 years and slowly slipped away.  

The Lady of Lawers. Wikipedia. accessed 27 July 2021

(PS. If interested further, search for a program with Tom Weir called ‘The Lady of Lawers’)

All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

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

Calm Crossings

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #157 – Getting Away 

Thank you, Rusha & Bert for this challenge which reminded me of the feeling of a lovely holiday.

There are some timeless places, where we can escape the often harsh reality of the world. Fine weather can help. To get to the island of Mull, 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 blue 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 fortitude, despite terrible times.

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.

………….

Relax: a daily posy.wordpress.com.
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

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

2020 Favourites

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge#129. Thanks to Tina & Co. for your commitment and inspiration this year.

Looking back, 2020 was the year I started appreciating life going on quietly around me. Nature always takes me out of myself.

The angle of the early morning sun was just right .Had to return the next morning to try and capture it with my old Fuji camera.
Visited our Gallery of Modern Art February 1st. Silenced by Cai Guo-Quang’s blue waterhole.
Learned more about butterflies in March. This is an Autumn Brown that prefers to flutter about at dusk.
Turned a corner and came across a surprise! Local kids must have spent a lot of time daydreaming as they created this artwork on the footpath behind our library. Cheered me up!
Spent a lot of time looking up in May. Always fascinated by clouds. Is that a cockatoo?
Testing my new phone. Visited Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens to learn more about “Native plants for Brisbane Gardens.” This is a glorious Grevillea.
Just a reflection of a crystal on a wall.
A new kitten explores the jungle that is our herb patch. (Thinks) They can’t see me!
So little rain in September… Rainbow Lorikeets were really thirsty and made the most of blossoms.
A Spring day at the beach with fresh, clear air blowing the ozone our way.
In a tree in the garden, orchids put on a show in November. Those blooms last for months.
Taken on the last day of the year. We’d had early morning rain. Ain’t Nature grand!

All text and photos by Meg

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

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.

 

H2O Collage: Weekly Photo Challenge

Water covers three-quarters of Planet Earth and makes up two-thirds of each healthy, human body.

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Lily pond in Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens.

Our city council says water features and fountains boost the city’s attractiveness and develop its ‘green and vibrant character.’

Where would we be without this element in our ‘collage?’

We are all the waves of one sea.

We are all the leaves of one tree.

The time has come for all to live as one.

We are all the flowers of one garden

And the waves of one sea

And the leaves of one tree. © Naomi Baltuck

H2O
Collage

All text (except quote)  and photos by Meg.

BALTUCK, Naomi. 1993, Crazy Gibberish and Other Story Hour Stretches (From a Storyteller’s Bag of Tricks) Hamden, Conn. Linnet Books. p.103

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

This blog, of text and images, is Copyright © under Australian Law.

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.

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Look closer.

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… 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.

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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!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Now then: Weekly Photo Challenge

The full moon began early yesterday, Christmas Day. I got up and took this shot about 02:30, from my open kitchen window.

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Photos are reminders. They capture what happened then. They give me a chance to reflect. I didn’t see a capital ” A” till afterwards when I downloaded it. What can it mean?

Words on a page, when I read silently, have an echo in my head, sometimes louder than others and rely on me being able to translate them, make meaning  … no,  I won’t go on with this … the reading process is much more complicated.

Words spoken, in old, meaningful stories told to others, are carried on the breath. Stories offer a life force with them, revealing individuals’ personality, emotions, choices and offering imaginative possibilities. In the light of the imagination, a shared tale can connect humans in the present moment … and then it passes into history. Now is just where we can begin – it’s an eternal starting point.

Some wise words about telling stories from an old friend, Joan Bodger-
Since the last time I told that story,
since the last time you heard it,
the earth’s gone around the sun,
the rain’s fallen in the creek
and the creek’s run into the river.
Even if you’ve heard the story before,
even if I tell it word for word,
just like the first time,
you’ve changed and I’ve changed and the story will change.
You never step in the same river twice.

So, our life goes on changing, as the earth spins and the ‘Star Wars’ saga cruises thru cinemas, packed with fans. As this New Year comes around, may the force of meaningful stories and peace be with you.

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98.9% Full Moon from down here on 26 Dec 2015.

All text, except those in italics,  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.

BODGER, Joan. How the heather looks; a joyous journey to the British sources of children’s books. Toronto, McClelland& Stewart. (1999: 233)

Oops! I fell : Weekly Photo Challenge

MSCF2578I was walking along, minding my own business a couple of weeks ago when, at my feet a flurry of colour made me side-step. “Oops! What is that?”

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A fledging was staggering about beside me … probably got a bit too cocky looking down from a hollow, high up in that tall eucalypt nearby. My … there was a lot of squawking going up there.

Instant dilemma. (Thinks: I shouldn’t pick it up. How will it get back up to safety? It can’t fly! Is it hurt? What can I do?) While I worried, the creature took action.

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 It finally got started after two floppy, failed attempts and began to climb. I could hear my grandmother saying … If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I shakily took photos.

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“Breathe and hold, ” I muttered to myself and the bird, then pressed the shutter.

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The fledgling was a young Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, in a punk phase, totally unfazed by my presence. Other lorikeets were making a racket from bushes on both sides of the path. It’s not for nothing that the collective noun is a “pandemonium” of parrots.

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As the fledgling gingerly climbed higher, its feathers settled when it sat. There was still a way to go to get to safety.

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This all took about 5 minutes. The bird took a breather every so often and preened. There’s the tree I think it fell from, on the left. That pandemonium of lorikeets squawked continuously until the youngster had climbed out of my reach.

I stepped out, heartened by that plucky little bird’s persistence and determination. Boy, that bird taught me a thing or two! It wanted to fly … it was learning to fly! It wasn’t going to quit.

………………

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I need to acknowledge a traditional Aboriginal story and popular children’s picture book here, called How the birds got their colours which features a Rainbow Lorikeet.  Pamela Lofts created the book of this story, which she heard from Mary Albert of the Bardi people of Western Australia. It was published, illustrated with children’s responses as paintings, in 2004 … a classic, widely used in schools and still in print,

This recent YouTube video (Don’t be put off by the 10 sec ad. at the start), directed and filmed by Teagan Spratt and Alannah Bryne retells this Aboriginal legend, as part of a Media Arts assignment in 2014. A significant feature is the explanation by Aboriginal elder Bill Buchanan, as he answers questions about the cultural significance of such stories, told to children.

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All text and photos, except where indicated, are by Meg

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

How The Birds Got Their Colours. Dir. Teagan Spratt and Alannah Byrnne. YouTube. YouTube, 1 June 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93UIsjYz75k&gt;.

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Updated _ Scaly-breasted Lorikeet: Basic Information from Birds in Backyards. Web. Downloaded 3 Jan 2017.<http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Trichoglossus-chlorolepidotus&gt;

Oops!

Eye Spy: Weekly Photo Challenge

On an early morning, wet walk, I spy some glowing lichen and go in for a closer look at the colours and the textures.

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Beautiful, old. It’s been here a long time. Wonder if it has any stories to tell?

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Then I jump back … for I heard the tree say,

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 “What you lookin’ at!”

All text and photos by Meg

PS Thanks to Pam for another viewpoint. Can you spy the black nanny goat in the first photo?  Tip your head slightly to the left. Just goes to show that it all depends on how you look at things!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

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Standing, waiting for a train, I noticed what the person beside me was reading …  just had to sneak a photo with my phone.

“Good on you, mate!” I thought, as an Aussie would say, to encourage another.

Being a storyteller, I did wonder what he had on his mind …

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

 
Transition