This is from Tappoch Broch near Larbert. The hearthplace is clearly still used every now and then by people camping out, and I found that continuity rather moving when we visited last September. The hearth as a metaphor for home has a long history, so I have chosen it as a reference for the new territory, although we are moving to a modern house with no actual fireplace. I will have to have a firepit outside! Fire struck me as a good reference point, because it is in a coal-mining area with a long tradition of ironworking, and I was already thinking of fire while I was finishing The Well of the Moon.
It is a more hilly place than here, and on higher ground – though nothing spectacular. The territory of rain is at sea level, and the place of the fire is only about a hundred feet above, but it makes a difference. The new house faces east/west rather than north/south, and the garden is more open to the sky, without our tall hedges. I expect I will miss the sparrows! There are plenty of oak and beech and hawthorn trees, some ash, but not, as far as I have seen, many willows – which I will miss – but I don’t think the land is much drier. Maps show several drainage ditches emptying into a network of burns flowing down towards the Clyde. I haven’t yet had too much opportunity to explore, partly because of activity here, but mostly because I’ve had a bad flare-up of my rheumatoid arthritis, which has made it difficult to walk. (It’s getting better now, luckily.) You will see a lot more about it when I do, however, under the Place of the Fire category.
This is also going to be the catchall for my next writing projects. The publication of The Well of the Moon, and the move prompted me to focus more on how I work and what else I might do. There is a whole new look planned for this website, with an extra page for non-fiction. It will cover the process of settling into a new landscape, and the issues it throws up for learning to belong in new communities, but will also cover the research I have done on herbs, poetics and the philosophy behind it all.
It won’t be long now. We have started clearing the old house, which is gradually filling up with cardboard boxes. I’ve packed twenty boxes of books already (including David Morley’s Fury, which is why I haven’t yet posted my review of it!) and there are ten still to do, although Callander Bookshop got an awful lot. The herbs to go have been potted up, the kitchen is next, and the dreary process of informing everybody who needs to know the change of address has started. It’s all beginning to feel real, and a lot more exciting!