Thursday, April 17, 2008

We’re back – a lot of hard work done. The weather was cold and unfriendly, but at least dry. It’s always hard to believe how much slower spring is, up there. We has been looking forward to our annual bowl of nettle soup – not a hope. Gardening in April, on the other hand, is enormously gratifying because things stay gardened longer and I’m not forever having to stop and go cut the grass.

Not much knitting. I tended to fall asleep by the fire. But I finished the KF socks for Theassoniki last night, at least knitting-wise, and will finish-finish them today.

I have the first of the gansey pics from Denver, but can't persuade Blogger to upload one. I'll try again later.

I had hoped the new KF sock yarn I ordered would be here to welcome me back, but it wasn’t.

Since there is little to report on the knitting front, I will tell you about our adventures.

1) On Tuesday we drove over the hill to Alyth so my husband could get his hair cut. He trusts no one but Mr Mitchell with his few remaining locks. They have put a windfarm up there. I have seen windfarms before. They go clackety-clack and I don’t care for them much.

These windmills, however, are of fantastic size and the effect in that familiar landscape is terrifying.

2) That night my husband got up to pee at about 1 am. He looked out of the window and saw fire in the direction of the Plantation. I was already awake, waiting my turn to pee, and I agreed, it was fire. So we put on our shoes and coats and went out.

The Plantation is a couple of acres of fir trees which he planted decades ago. Our middle-aged children have bitter memories of being employed as pressed labour to weed the little trees. Now it is a cool mysterious place, marked on the latest Ordinance Survey maps with little fir-tree symbols: a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is always better at orientation than I am, and it was he who said first, “It’s not our trees.” The fire was on the other side of the river. We stood and watched for a while from the top of the stubble field. It was a big one, and went WHOOSH from time to time like the end of a Catherine Wheel. The birds and the sheep (normally silent at that hour) were vocal in their agitation.

The odd thing is that we saw no sign of people. The fire was more or less at the crossroads just outside the village – we would have seen headlights approaching on any one of the three roads. We could hear the crackle, and would have been able to hear men shouting. Or even to see figures silhouetted again the flame. But there was no sign of anyone.

Yesterday when we left there was an ambulance there, and a police van approaching. I must make some phone calls today. My husband said he hadn’t seen such a fire since the war, but I reminded him of a restaurant that burned down in Northampton, MA, in the spring of ’61. That was terrific.


  1. welcome back, although it was someone's trees, glad it was not your plantation. No gardening here in MN yet, but the ground may be dry enough soon for some cleanup and weeding what didn't get done in the fall.

  2. Anonymous6:21 PM

    The yard here is getting unkempt already (more unkempt I should say).

    I wonder if some people in the Middle Ages and Renaissance hated windmills; Don Quixote was addled, but the character may have been used by Cervantes to express a minority opinion anyway.

    I'm relieved to hear that it wasn't your plantation. "At the crossroads" sounds as though it may have been a vehicle fire. Sad, regardless.

  3. I must say this is my favourite Jean's Knitting post, ever.

  4. Anonymous10:00 PM

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  5. Hi

    Glad to see you both safe home. Glad it wasn't your trees as well, all those years of work and growing it doesn't bear thinking about!

    What is strange tho is reading you mention Alyth!!! I have heard of this place for many years as this is where my grandparents came from. I have never been able to go there, one day I hope! I did have great grandparents and Aunts and Uncles etc there but I think they are nearly all gone now.

    If you took any pictures there? It would be good to see. I could show my Mum who has visited with relatives in the 80's and 90's.

    Anyway must away to work.

    Cheers from downunder

  6. Well done on getting all the crops in, though. Did you manage to find anyone interested in the drudge work of breaking the ground up? I'm stuck with pots for my winter veggies agina. Boring. Can't get rocket to do anything interesting in pots - it just goes straight to seed and looks all spindly. I wanted to try for some spinach this year as well as some rainbow chard but feel a little discouraged.

    Anything to do with pines and fire makes me shudder. Can't live through watching a bushfire ravage a pine plantation and then sweep on up to settlements without feeling rather terrified at the thought. The rotten things explode when they catch on fire and spread pine pitch for hundreds of meters and if there's a strong wind, as is usual in bushfire season, the embers get carried kilometers away. Shudder.