Today the clouds are running fast across the roof tops and the gulls pass the window on wobbly flights, fighting the wind. Still, the sky looks like an opal. And if the chimney is roaring and moaning today, perhaps tomorrow it will coo and gurgle with the song of the wood pigeon who lays on top of the warm, flat chimney pipe on calmer days, sending her music down to me.
Wrapped in layers of clothing, it is possible to work all day with the window open now. At least that's what I like to do. The temperatures are between 6 and 10 degrees these days, so maybe this is something like swimming in spring as soon as the ice melts off the lakes... a lovely but lonely pleasure.
On Sunday I went back to Delgatie castle, which I've written about before, and spent another day out with the painters. It seems that I got even less done on this outing, only part of a sketch this time. I mostly spent the day tramping across the soft mossy floor of the woods, or winding up and down the spiral staircase that the castle is built around, passing through the gloomy rooms, reading about ghosts, having tea and scones with cream, and listening to the piano being played by another painter in the ballroom.
The grounds of the castle have many wonders. The walls there have, in places, begun to sprout horns. There is a tiny mill pond with a tiny, stone mill house and a rusted wheel. There are swans, old ice houses covered in moss, rickety stables, and little log cabins for the tiny, round Shetland ponies to sleep in. There is also a wishing well.
Written on the stone above it are these words:
Invoke beside the lady's well
This skillful marksman's deadly spell
Declare thy wish his little dart
Will emerge an adamantine heart
The woods were a splendour of song bird melodies and falcon shrieks, and in some places there were so many pigeons cooing up in the trees that everything seemed to thrum along with them, like a sort of collective breath. At the end of the day there were newly painted marvels to gaze upon (one showing tooth marks from a pony who had noticed an easel left alone and unguarded during a tea break). Then there were bag pipes spotted in the back of a car, and a tiny concert followed.
On the way home, so much talking, looking out the window at Bennachie (Beinn na Ciche in Gaelic, "peak of the breast"), the tallest hill around, green today, all the snow melted.