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Floral experiences

Yellow on the broom – this is round our Pond which you can’t see because it never refills

I don’t recall ever seeing such an abundance of broom blossom. Lemon custard in dollops on everything, as if the landscape were aggrieved at missing its usual dolloping of snow in the winter and had decided to make up for it with a more colourful spring alternative. What does it all mean, these weird alternations of heat, drought and north-wind weather? What happened to the old “prevailing” sou’-westers?

We scurry about in the garden trying to keep abreast of the vagaries of the new unpredictability. What we really need is four times the usual amount of vegetable seeds, so we can experiment our way round germination failures and the other problems attendant on slow growth (hungry slugs being one of the most obvious). But four times the amount of seed is four times the cost of an item that’s already outrageously pricey due to the dearth of seedsmen (apologies Henry Miller) of the old-fashioned kind. We are of course attempting to generate as much of our own seed as possible but – ha! another problem: where have all the pollinators gone? There are supposed to be a few honey-bees about, though personally I might have seen three so far this year, and the various bumble-bee tribes are also conspicuous by their absence. So, flowers, flowers everywhere and pretty low expectation of seed, as well as low expectation of some basic crops. We tend to forget that in the not-too-distant past we regularly had famine years in the north. If it weren’t for Tescos and their buddies, 2012 might well have proved one of them.

Here’s a link to Paul’s Cottarton blog where he talks about the Siberian “log” method of keeping honey-bees – supposed to be very natural and good for them, though local beekeepers seem to frown on it, not sure why. The only trouble is, where can he get bees from? Love nor money doesn’t seem to produce the desirables, as most of them have died off due to Colony Collapse Syndrome (personally I think it’s something more along the lines of Douglas Adams’ So long, and thanks for all the fish). Anyway, if you come across a wild-looking man in a veil crouching by the roadside, it’s probably Paul lying in wait for a swarm.

Memorable floral experiences this year also include the amazing sight of the clouds of may-blossom along both sides of the Cree river’s lower reaches. We were driving over the road from Girvan to Wigtown where we were to be guests at Mary’s Wedding. I don’t mean we were walking into a song, Mary’s my niece, though it has to be said I’m not a very good uncle. Her other uncle did the tune proud on his Pipes, however. At the meal I was thoughtfully placed beside a lady who’d helped to get the Wigtown Book Festival started a few years ago. The Wigtown Book Festival is very Big, though Wigtown is very small, and I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of it – hey, I’m from the North-East. I have now though, and have decided to be one of the star attractions in the not unreachable future. Wigtown is also enormously pretty, but apparently in time past its inhabitants didn’t realise this and what is now the “square” (the mathematics of this notion leave a bit to be desired) used to be the general midden. It’s all tidied up now, naturally, or there’d have been no Festival.

I can report that that song about the Gallowa’ Hills being covered with flowers is a load of bunkum. Never did like that song anyway.

Girvan was where Annie, Rachel and I met up with Anna, Ben, Abby and Robin and from where we continued wedding-wards in a noisy rabble. I thought I’d been in this metropolis before (though Ben says it was probably Ardrossan) when I was on the way to Arran in 1967. Abby’s definitely been to Girvan though, she pointed out some rocks where she and Rosie used to sit at the Girvan Festival and get “baked”. (“Baked?” Rachel queried, “was the weather that hot?”). I’m not sure which rocks she meant, but it wouldn’t have been Ailsa Craig, that was a bit far out (see below), and essential ingredients would have got wet.

I have tomatoes called after her, onions called after her, a character in my current work in progress called after her; but this is Herself in her entirety….

I’ve added some more poems, but too busy to put in more stuff as I’d have liked. The child hopping around among the verses of “Wood Anemones, Craighall Den” is probably Abby (that was well before her baking days). “Kullervo’s Return to the Foster-Folk” makes me think I can’t have been best pleased at returning to my childhood haunts when we moved to Fife so that Annie could go to Uni – mid-‘nineties, that would have been. “Two Girls, Tarvit Hill” might be an affectionate little memento of Abby and Rosie’s friendship, which goes back a good many years.

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