Katharine Stewart’s essay for March 28th (ca 1994) discusses birds and trees, and the changes she had witnessed over the years. She hears the curlew: “It’s a sad, lonely, quivering call, but it means that these incomparable birds are back. They’ve left their wintering on the coast and are here to nest and make increase. That’s enough to lift the day.” (p. 57)
We’ve had some wonderful blue-sky days here this past week. Cold still, and frosty some mornings, but everyone has remarked – even on Radio Scotland – on the increase in birdsong. I haven’t heard any curlews (or, to be more accurate, I wouldn’t know if I had), but I have really been enjoying the birds. I stopped to watch a pair of greenfinches the other day. I can recognise their “greeeeen” long chirp, but these two were making a different kind of a sound, and I was hoping I might learn it and remember it.
Stewart writes also about trees, and the changes she had seen in the countryside near Loch Ness. “We have one thing to be grateful for, as we look out on our changing landscape. Foresters are abandoning the planting of dense stretches of conifer. ‘Bring back the birch’ is a welcome slogan today. The birch – from the winter outline of its mauve branches to the May-time greening and the autumn gold, and the year-long shine of the silver bark, it’s an incomparable tree.” (p. 57) I fully agree. I have loved birch trees ever since I made friends with two beautiful specimens across the street from the house we lived in when I was four years old. I just loved those trees with their peeling, white bark. They stood in front of a white picket-fence belonging to a house where a sweet elderly couple lived, and the lady sometimes gave me freshly-baked cookies. No wonder I love birch trees! Here in Glasgow we don’t have a birch in our small garden, but there are quite a few around, including one that I can see from the house.
Stewart goes on to write, “Bunches of [birch] twig still make good garden besoms”. Until I looked it up, I hadn’t realised “besom” is a Scottish word for a broom (or brush, as people often say here – “brush the floor”). I had only heard “besom” as a derogatory word for a girl or woman: “she’s a right wee besom”.
I have had a few urban excursions recently, and have enjoyed both nature and the man-made environment:
I know that my American friends and relations have already “sprung forwards” but here the clocks leap ahead tonight. Before that, we have a visit from Our Son, and a cèilidh at the Dafter’s church to look forwards to! Fingers crossed she will be able to go and enjoy herself. She will rest all day.
I leave you with a sweet photo of our Tilly:
Tilly had her annual check at the vet’s yesterday. For the first time in 10 years, she has put on weight! The other morning she woke me at 6:30 am by gently attacking my head and biting my hair, she was so hungry. (This is a very rare event.) So we shall have to think this through a bit.
I wish you all a very good Palm Sunday weekend.