On Driesh on Sunday I met a man out walking with his daughter. I’d seen the two figures – one tall and one much smaller, a little ahead of me as we all approached the top. I noticed them stopping occasionally, choosing which way seemed best between or through the remaining patches of snow.
At the cairn we got talking and I learned that she was eight and she told me she was pleased that she had now ’done six Munros’. This was especially good because it meant she was ahead of her little sister who had – so far – only done four. Her father explained that the little sister, not with them today, was two years younger.
‘Carrot and stick,’ he joked ‘we have to go to McDonalds later!’ At the top of a hill, I thought, a hot burger and chips does sound like a pretty superior kind of carrot.
‘And did you find this one easy?’ I asked the girl.
‘No,’ she laughed, ’it was hard!’
‘Well then,’ I said, ’you must be a person who is able to do difficult things. That’s a good thing to know…’
Quiet smiles all round.
A portrait of our times as peat
Rain upon rain tilthed loam,
levelled to pudding black lake,
a dark carboniferous hag
of uncertain depth and liquidity.
Too far for giant leaping.
Is there a submarine step
sunk safe a pace ahead?
Perhaps – there often is, or
so they say.
I’m excited to be working on a collaborative project with artist Tansy Lee Moir as part of her ‘Dialogue with trees’ residency. I’ve already made one visit to Calderwood in West Lothian to see and learn about the wonderful trees that are the subject of Tansy’s drawings. Over the next few months I hope to visit again, and in the meantime I’ve begun work on a short series of poems developed from ideas about trees and my reactions to Tansy’s artworks.
The residency is proceeding with a series of events and workshops, and will end on April 23d 2017 with an evening at the Howden Park Centre when Tansy will give a presentation about all her work during the residency, and I’ll be giving readings including poetry developed over the course of our collaboration.
You can see an exhibition of Tansy’s superb drawings of trees right now at the Howden Park Centre in West Lothian.
Something a little different – a gallery with an assortment of some of the images and montages that I’ve made to illustrate this blog over the past wee whiley …
The island of Macgyver
Chuck Wagon crossing The Great Scots Pine
Beech pennies tanned rust and ochre,
circles of sky cast in cold pressed leaf,
they do not always look the same,
though Brighty is damp almost all year
the pools are not always present.
I can look above and below,
but not at the same instant.
I must choose one plane,
breathe low and look kindly, and
fix each in focus, turn about.
This short circuit, a balanced cut-log bridge,
needle scent, fern and copper scale contours,
barely fifteen minutes to walk around, but
gently, surely, it all returns to ground.