Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Honest Toil Rewarded

I was hanging out my washing today. It's been a beautiful mild and golden autumn day. After having been fed up for the last few days and, as I posted here, even having lost interest in walking my two and a half acres, the weather was making me smile. Even the dog was gambolling about on the grass as if she was a puppy again (which she isn't!) So things were looking a teeny bit better. Then I noticed something weird about one of my clothes pegs - can you spot what it is...

...a moth! The sweet little thing must have been asleep. It sat there even as I pegged up a sock, then unpegged it to take the picture, then pegged it again. The camouflage is perfect. Made me glad that I leave my pegs out on the line to weather...and it gave me a picture to post here!

Maybe life isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Roses are Blooming...

To cheer myself (and probably you lot too) after that last post I thought I'd put up one of my favourite photos - of a rose that, because I grow it in the inner garden, escaped the attention of the deer who nipped the flowers off every rose that I was daft enough to plant in the outer garden. Hope you enjoy it.

Not Walking in the Woods

When I began this blog I planned to record, every day or so, the life that I saw around me in my patch of Earth. The main reason for doing this was that I didn't know how much longer I would be living here; since I was widowed I have been hanging on, mainly to prove that I could do it. After two years I reckon I have proved that I can do it but now I don't know that I want to do it any more.

But Puddock Acres is a special place: rather, it isn't special at all but to a townie like me it has brought me so close to nature that it has changed who I am and I pity anyone who hasn't had the chance to step out of those human-centric towns and cities for a while and discover for themselves that there is more to life than humanity. I am nervous about going back to the town and maybe forgetting all that I have learned, losing that connection to the rest of nature that put me in my place.

So I thought I'd record here what I saw, get my pictures and observations out there as a record of this place. I thought the discipline too might encourage me to actually create a body of work instead of just talk about it.

But I'm finding it more difficult than I thought. Every time I step out into the woodland or the field I end up feeling sad. At first it was memories of the slow promenades I would take with the Golfer when he was very ill - here's where he tripped; here's where we would sit and stare out across the Firth; here's where he cried. And I despaired of ever being able to enjoy the land again. Then gradually a kind of euphoria took its place - the challenge of managing it myself, the pride at the work I had done with no help offered or asked for from neighbours. Now that I've proved myself, I've run the place completely on my own for a year, it feels like a sad place again. Who am I proving myself to? Who notices?

I think I am at last emerging from my grief. I am impatient to be amongst people, though I have forgotten how to do it. Running this family-sized house and this bit of land with no-one to see it, no-one to enjoy it feels pointless and ever more isolating.

All this is by way of an excuse for not posting here in a while. I wish I could summon up the enthusiasm for it but I cannot face that walk round the field, the stream and the woodland just now - it's just too sad.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

A Puddock's best friend

Here's a Puddock's best friend looking unusually reflective on a clear autumn day. She must have been taking a break from the digging - her usual occupation!

Monday, 8 October 2007

October on the croft

It being October now, I thought I'd bring you the appropriate extract from the book From a Highland Croft by Wendy Wood (see the September extract here .)
Acorns are a great help as additional feeding for the hens, and it was necessary to hurry and pick them up before the squirrels and mice got them, so I went out with a basket, the dog at my heels. Then I went back for a hat, as acorns falling from a height on to one's head are irritating, to say the least of it. They were plentiful, big brown ones, little green ones, and some rosy pink. My fingers were busy among the moss and fallen leaves, and not wishing to spoil my focus by looking up, I passed from tree trunk to tree trunk with my head down, always making for the tree of biggest girth in the hope of greater harvest.

From a crofter's point of view, an outrun of rocky hill covered with oaks is a curse. The cow is lost to sight within a few yards, and it is difficult enough to know where you are yourself, much less the cow, when foliage cuts you off from familiar landmarks. For this reason I put a bell on my cow, but the crafty creature, preparing to sleep outside, soon learnt to lie down at dusk and keep quite still, so that I could be within a hundred yards of her yet unaware of her presence. One night after plunging about for hours along the rocky shore and up the even rockier hillside, I gave up the hunt...In the very early hours of the morning I heard the sound I had so eagerly listened for at night - clang-clang - and there at the gate, deliberately swinging her head "clang-clang" stood the cow. She got a good skelping for her behaviour and well she understood, for the next evening I heard "clang-clang" at the byre door as the sun began to set. It sank a crimson ball and lit clouds near and far like banners, throwing out its glory for miles, tinting the crests of the hills and dipping the lower slopes in purple dye.

Skelping is a Scots word for smacking - not very politically correct to skelp your cows these days but I can imagine her frustration on those cold October evenings - the fireside would be calling and once it was dark it was really dark - you wouldn't want to be out alone on the hillside.

Tiny mushrooms

It is mushroom season here at Puddock Acres. In fact, there is usually some kind of fungi growing at any time of year but autumn is when the greatest variety pop up, literally overnight. Different fungi prefer different conditions - some are associated with birch trees, some with pine, every variety seems to have its preferred place.

I don't know much about fungi, to be honest. The ones that appear in my garden, field and wood don't look like the ones I see in the books, so I can't put an official name to most of them. But I love to photograph them and maybe when I have more time I'll try to paint or draw them.

So I have quite a collection of the weird and the wonderful fungi that I find about the place. I've got two pictures to post today. I thought they made a nice matched pair. They are both tiny. One is black, one is white but they're a similar shape - I liked the contrast.

This one is really small - that is a pine cone next to it on one side; on the other is a pine needle, which is only about an inch and a half long.

And this one is a similar type, but a dazzling white colour - slightly bigger, but not much.

The closer I look at the tiny things in my gaden, the more I wonder at the richness of life around us that we barely notice. Glorious!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Larch in the sunlight

I photographed this branch of larch this week as the late afternoon sun lit up its needles. It's come out rather well, I think - a quiet image of an ordinary little bit of nature. The fresh green so restful on the eye.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Free Burma

Free Burma
Originally uploaded by Buffy Holt: Flickr
This is the only blogpost I will write today. I am proud to join thousands of fellow bloggers around the world who dedicate their blogs today to the people of Burma.