Sunday, 22 April 2012

Forest Dweller

The Bold Burn runs up parallel with the logging road a mile and, at the junction, swerves left  into marshy grassland before rising away steeply , taking its burbling with it.
Drawing breath after running  the rise I stood at the quiet junction this afternoon, staring  into a copse of spruce trees there, that wedge between the burn and the forest road. Unusually on Forestry land these are mature spruce, tall and strong. I climbed down into the copse`s heart and all was dark and silent, but for the Bold burn murmuring, the muffling floor fifty years of soft brown needles. I studied the thick trees` down-sloping branches and mapped a climb in my head. Abandoning this my eye then caught right angles in amongst the tangled diagonals; at seven feet  someone had placed a slim pole-like  branch between two trees and, rising from the needle carpet to meet it in the middle was a twenty feet long sapling trunk, stripped of branches. Together they formed a fragile, rising cross. Looking down I saw the stone circle of a camp fire, blackened with burnt branches and pine cones. Weeks, months old. Trying to make sense I envisaged a forest dweller lying flat, staring up at the looming, falling cross in some solitary rapture or torment. (Why did I think that ?)  And then, as though an archaeologist piecing together a (remarkably well preserved)  find, I saw flat stone rows either side that would have  held  waterproof sheeting down, and I heard again the burn only a few metres away; close-by for washing. But for the intruding forest road above, a traveller had created a perfect bivouac.   In my mind`s eye I saw them at night, head protruding from under their open canopy, warmed by a resinous fire, hearing owls hoot, foxes bark and being lulled to sleep by the constant  reassuring chatter of the burn.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Seize the Day

In my home reside a number of odd wooden figures; some of these have birds perched atop their heads; as though both man and beast share souls.  They stand as testimony to an earlier, less busy phase of my life. 

Today, Robin held his hands aloft for a reluctant five minutes while I sketched. Then I went to the birch trunk, hefted its bulk upright and, after much rumination, painted brush strokes for shoulders and forearms.
Then I sat astride the log and, with chisel and mallet, embarked, finally, upon the figure