Monday, 21 November 2011

Windows and Wallflowers


   I have been off dissecting accordions with a group of old gentlemen and strolling the back lanes in the dark.  I have sold raffle tickets (and won a mouth harp!), and drunk free whisky that made my arms go numb at an art show I contributed a couple of things to.  I have been practising old tunes on the concertina around sunset these days.  I have spent some lovely evenings in the homes of people who have thrown open their doors to me.  In short, I think the anxious blues of the past months have been chased away, and we are settling into another winter.  Now that absolutely all of our plans have fallen through, I can safely say that we are staying here in Aberdeen for a little while yet.  I think it will be lovely.   

Two very, very late or very, very early crocuses from the other day.

We will be heading down to Edinburgh later on this week, so I thought I'd share an old photo of some stained glass windows there that I always enjoy looking at when they are lit up at night.  The whole matter of "nobody watching" is a little bit funny with all the crazy surveillance in the UK.  But it does make me think of my grandparents and the strange joy they seemed to derive from keeping tabs on the neighbours. 

"My mother knew everybody in this street.  She could reel off the occupants of every single house; everybody could once upon a time.  Now they come and they go.  That's why these tragedies happen; nobody watching.  If they knew they were being watched they might behave." (Click to enlarge)

Update:  I'm back from Edinburgh with more info about the image above. The window displays are still in place, though they weren't lit up when I passed by the other night.  On further, closer inspection it appears that they are not stained glass windows, but skillfully done papercuts with coloured tissue paper added.  I was also able to find out that the artist is Astrid Jaekel and she has done other delightful installations like this one, which can be seen on her website.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A horn that can only sing to my eyes.

By three p.m. the November sun has hammered itself into a thin sheet of gold leaf that rests on top of damp, bent-over grasses.  Beaches that sit at the bottom of green cliffs with scuttle-down foot paths are already pulling the waves up around them and settling in for a long sleep in the early evening shadows.

Even as the light changes so quickly there are odd moments of birds suspended in the air just over head. Their wings flap hard but they hang in the same spot, unable to advance against the wind.  The earth is whirling through space, but we have paused for a second.

In the coastal hills that roll just above the city, a huge horse walked over and  pushed its enormous forehead up against me, with quiet half-closed eyes.  Down on a rocky little beach in a craggy place, an old sea freight container sits covered in layers of paint and rust, full of secrets.

We crawled up into a rocky place below the lighthouse, with our feet hanging out over the cold waves and just enough room to sit, and as the sun set we drank hot milk tea from a flask and ate bannocks.  A lonely seal peered up at us, and the city spread down the coast in roaring lights as orange as the sky.