Saturday, 5 June 2010

Tillypronie in June

A brief visit to Aberdeenshire, where sunshine is broken by rain showers, and a mysterious thunderstorm this afternoon, when the skies were alive with a strange light. Afterwards a mist arose from the ground, and a cloud in the shape of a hare scudded above, then dissolved.
Last time I was here it was Easter, and the snow was still lodged in thick icy drifts; the azaleas were broken-limbed, pine trees cracking and creaking, their branches collapsing with great sighs. But two months on, the garden at Tillypronie has emerged again, just in time for tomorrow's opening. The bluebells are flowering, a month later than those further south; bees bumble in the fresh growth of heather; azaleas and rhododendrons blossoming in a sudden burst, their scent drifting across the lawn.
Oh, how lovely is June; this great rush forward, when the days are lengthening, and even at midnight, there is light at the edge of the sky.
In the morning I must return to London, but tonight I am here, where the lapwings fly.

Which is as good a reason as any to read this poem, Two Pewits, by Edward Thomas:

Under the after-sunset sky
Two pewits sport and cry,
More white than is the moon on high
Riding the dark surge silently;
More black than earth. Their cry
Is the one sound under the sky.
They alone move, now low, now high,
And merrily they cry
To the mischievous Spring sky,
Plunging earthward, tossing high,
Over the ghost who wonders why
So merrily they cry and fly,
Nor choose 'twixt earth and sky,
While the moon's quarter silently
Rides, and earth rests as silently.


kairu said...

I love the inadvertent (or is it deliberate?) rhyme of "sky" and "fly."

You remind me of the June I spent in St. Petersburg, when the sun never sets. You are so far north, in a strange stage-set of a city, all pastel palaces and arrow-straight boulevards, that in the unearthly light of evening you feel like you have gone to the edge of the earth.

After your last posts, and your photographs of blooming gardens, I begged a friend to bring me some branches of rhododendron from her garden. Now my dining table is dominated by a massive bunch - almost a small bush - of purplish-magenta blossoms.

It's been grey and rainy here in Seattle, but today the sun burst out, and even though it's still relatively cool, I feel like summer is finally starting.

Stephen Pope said...

Tillypronie's heavy rain came earlier than the South's - London and the Sussex coast rippled with thunder and lightning downpours at dawn today.

Your description of Tillypronie's cracking trees made me think of Robert Frost...who might well have pored over this poem by his friend, lately killed in the First World War. But I wonder what bird he, as an American nature observer, imagined it to be describing? Like the great Mimosa/Acacia confusion, the Pewit is another common name that Europeans and Americans use to denote entirely different things. To us (and Edward Thomas) the Pewit, or Peewit, is a Lapwing, a type of ground-nesting Plover found on wet fields...whereas the American Pewit is a 'Peewee', a woodland Flycatcher that catches insects on the wing.

I'm lucky if I spot even a couple of Flycatchers per season here, but Lapwings/Peewits still maintain reasonable numbers on the wetlands of Romney Marsh where I live. Yet their numbers are a fraction of the dense flocks I remember as a boy in the 1960s - land drainage and intensive agribusiness have decimated them.

I love how Tillypronie triggers the desire for hares. London doesn't quite do that.

jaywalker said...

What a great expression on the dog's face. Does he belong to Tillypronie? We have a just three yr old King Charles Cavalier who is the delight of our retired lives. We have previously had a springer, and a cocker spaniel and a labrador all of whom we loved, but Charlie is something special. I love the way spaniels sit so alert and aware of their surroundings.

Justine Picardie said...

The dog is called Bill, and very much part of Tillypronie. He dived into the heather, and then turned to his master's camera at exactly the right moment. He is very much a one-man dog, but I do enjoy his company, even though Bill's gaze is always on his beloved.

Anonymous said...

More haste, less speed............................................................................

enid said...

O to be in England now that you are in full bloom and not here listening to football mania. I am planning our trip to france any reading ideas for Normandy - Bayeux Mont San Michel Rouen. I want to read lots.

Stephen Pope said...

Enid: '...any reading ideas for Normandy? I want to read lots.'

Enid, do you know of the Normandy-set trilogy by Sebastian Faulks, erstwhile colleague of Justine? 'Charlotte Gray' was adapted into a cheesy vehicle for Cate Blanchett's cheekbones, but 'Birdsong' (1993) is the better respected novel. There's also 'The Girl At The Lion D'Or', if you're going for the full Faulks Normandy experience.

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