Saturday, 25 August 2012

Brown Footprints on Green Grass

   These are some old photos, from about this time last year.  All of what lies around this city is a bit of a fairy tale: stone circles, cold mountain streams, crooked and mossy woods, endless sandscapes by the shore, bog-topped mountains, and an unreal amount of turreted pink castles. 

There are so many nooks and crannies that need to be visited.  Someone will mention a great crater where thousands of sea birds come to nest in the spring or a mountain top where they experienced glory or a brocken spectre and somewhere inside me a slow, nagging yearning will start. 

Luckily we recently got hold of some old bicycles.  There is a lovely organization in Aberdeen that gives people bikes for free.  Sometimes they are rusty and old and broken, but then they have tools and people with bike repair knowledge who can teach you to fix bikes yourself with the spare parts that are laying around in their work space.

I found an old green mountain bike with no pedals and no brakes, but with some help I managed to get it fixed up to the point where, while it could still use some new brake pads, it was good enough to drive home on.  I have an immense appreciation and respect for this entirely volunteer-run and absolutely wonderful group.  I wish every town had something like this!

So now the countryside is drawing nearer... it is as though our legs have grown three times as long. 

Meanwhile, this apartment has found three different ways to leak water: missing roof slate, broken hot water tank in the attic, and a slow gush from the washing machine which has apparently gone on long enough to have rotted the floor boards.  So, we have been a little bit tied down as of late, with everything pulled out of place and not too much getting done.

I suppose that's why I've posted a dream of an afternoon escape in here today. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bright Sun on Cold Water

  Three days of sun and warmth.  The indoors makes me stir crazy, and so we wander the beach up and down, rolled up pant legs, carrying our shoes.  The water is as cold as if there had been no summer here at all.  There has been no summer here at all. 

We walk to where the river empties dark water into the North Sea, cross the line in the two waters and look down at our legs all orange and warm as the river rushes by.  The swell where the river meets the ocean is disorienting and so I look at it too long, until the world rolls over a little.  In Edinburgh last week we watched an acrobat walking on the walls and ceiling, warping gravity and finally escaping through a brightly-lit hole that appeared inside his suitcase which was stuck on the wall, which was also the floor.

A little way down the river there is a small group of seals that have swum inland and heaved themselves up onto the river bank, or just waited there as the tide went out.  Either way, I have only stood at the shallow edge of the river.  I have only dared myself to step into the place where the land drops away sharply and the current pushes strongly seaward the seals and fish that swim unseen, against and through the river.  On the river bank, one seal stretches its head and tail upward, and further upward until the outer arch of its stomach is the only point that touches the ground.

In the tide pools there are schools of small fish that dart underneath the sand when one walks too near them.  Watching them, it looks as if they just take a breath and then disappear. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Things Underfoot

   We have been out hunting the creeping, ground-growing fruits of the woods.  At home pine needles and moss gather in the kitchen sink.  There are more blaeberries (wild blueberries) in the woods than all the people of this world could pick.  And they grow one small berry for every five plants.  Chanterelles and boletes and so many other wild mushrooms explode out of the earth all in a day, and insects whir and drone loudly overhead while you stoop down to pick them.  The blooming, ripening season is here.   

    It has been hard to sit in front of a computer these days, even the many rainy ones.  There was a small trip to Glasgow last week, a confection of a trip.  Stunning medieval tapestries and paintings at the Burrell Collection, Rima and Tom putting on a lovely show one evening at GalGael, and finally seeing Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre this time all made for a marvellous couple of days.  Sometimes, especially when you don't really live in one, it is lovely to feel a city thrumming all around you.  And so we are having our fill of them: next week we are off to Edinburgh to meet a friend from afar and bring them back up to Aberdeen, and surely to have a look at the Fringe on the way.

   Then there is the quiet stuff of every day: cooking up experiments for dinner, bringing wine to a friend, looking for ways to make a few pennies, tapping the barometer, finding a new easel (a big one!) that doesn't cost too much.  And slowly, despite this overwhelming abundance, it is time to start gathering in some things for the autumn, plans and wishes and scratchings on paper.