In Scotland we have just taken the biggest step forward out of lockdown, and things are tentatively opening up again. I’ve had a chai latte in a coffee shop, and we’ve had a proper visit from our daughter and grand-daughter. We are beginning to go a little further on walks – this photo was taken at Cambus Pools Nature Reserve. You can see that summer is moving on and there are fewer flowers, and more grass and foliage in my photos.
But one walk we took was nearer to home, and yet it is a place I’ve rarely been in the thirty-eight years I’ve lived here – Gowan Hill, near the castle – so near, in fact that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army planted their guns there to attack it. It is a steep walk in places, which is probably why I haven’t been up there so often, but it was worth it to see plants I haven’t seen elsewhere in the area, like this chicory
and hear young sparrowhawks calling to be fed. I think I’ll be going up there much more often in future.
This is John Damian, the flying monk satirised in a poem by the fourteenth-century poet Dunbar. He attempted to fly from the castle battlements but was lucky to get away with a simple broken leg. This one, a leaping salmon, is carved into a tree stump.
I’m beginning to take lessons from the salmon, returning to their native streams, in spite of the currents and waterfallls that bar their path. Writing has been tough these last months. I’ve buried myself in other poets’ work, and sidestepped to do some background reading and look after my herbs and my family, and we have taken on the roller-coaster of a new diagnosis for one of us, with a complete rethink of how we move forward, plus the complicated shifts and tweaks for someone who is shielding. There have been days when simply making sure we got meals and the right medication was as much as we could do. But I am going to be as stubborn as the salmon. I’m preparing the next herb newsletter, and thinking of some book reviews and discussion pieces for the blog, because I’ve come across a lot of interesting resources for people who like writing about nature and place and community. It’s time to venture out again!