Monday morning. Sounds of the broom seed pods popping in the sun, the smell of ripening blackberries in the air. The shift of the seasons has begun. I am back by the pond, a place I have not visited since early Spring. I sit down and get out my drawing paper and suddenly this jewel of blue and its compliment of scorching orange flashes in front of my eyes away to the rushes on the island. I am sharing my morning with a kingfisher. It keeps coming back, again and again as if trying to get my attention, and every time I see it my heart leaps. Really it does. The thunder of the traffic not far on the dual carriageway scores the soundtrack against its flight. How utterly beautiful, its blue impossible to describe, and I feel deeply touched by its presence.
Here is an attempt to introduce my thoughts about what the Dighty book I am trying to compile might actually be about. Some suggestions if you like about this landscape and the people I have met. In many ways it is also an attempt at understanding for myself as I wrestle with the words and texts that have come from this project and it pushes me further down the path of having to get down to some work ….. It goes something like this….
Dighty burn. – Introduction –
This collection of words and images is, at first glance as random as it can get. And that is in some respects how it should be, how it ought to exist, given the random nature of some of the meetings with this place and its people. It is however a journey of sorts, a series of foot notes if you like that neither explain nor describe this burn, rather illuminate moments of connection made through walking. In the film ‘Patience ( After Sebald )’, Robert Mcfarlane describes the difference between the British and Americans when it comes to walking. He says that for the American a walk is one of discovery. For the Briton it is one recovery. For both these outcomes I am thankful, and also for the generosity of those I have chatted with, had tea and biscuits and a laugh, being equally baffled, impressed and moved by the subjects of conversation. The burn, is at times a difficult, dirty space but also a beautiful, open space, a product of its industrial past, a dumping space, a wildlife haven, a dog walking space, a childhood place, a drink and drug taking place and a space that people regard as part of the communities collective memory. It is a boundary between the city and the country, the frontier, an edge land. I have been looking at where those edges meet, which means that, at times, the documented slips quietly underneath into a world imagined by myself, resurfacing as a new layer of the story.
The Dighty burn has been my creative home and this collection represents a period of time spent in this landscape. It could keep being added to for as long as I am witness to this place. But I will shortly no longer be present, for no other reason than it feels the right time to stop and listen.
Lines of the council mowers cut into the grass. A chilly day of cloud and rain lifted by my conversations later with the walkers from Douglas . I hear stories of pea and ham soup, of soldiers returning home from japan at the end of the war, and bridies and onions prompting everyone to say – ‘ananinginaneana’, that well known Dundonian saying which translates as ‘an onion one as well’. Benidorm palace and its variety acts of wonder. Tucking your skirt in your knickers for playing at the burn and going for a ride in a yellow submarine. Sucky sweets and getting laughed at for being the youngest – nae free bus pass ! Back for a cup of tea and a piece wi’ jam and a wee bit more chat…… A cracking afternoon.
Early September morning. Blinking in the morning sun. I sit in the car park of Sainsburys drawing the local KFC whilst shoppers wonder why ? Meet a retired architect who designed the swimming pool and flumes that once stood on the Tay, now demolished for the new V and A museum. He said he felt a touch sad at its going. Another woman who I think was very nervous laughed the whole while I chatted. Either that or….. ? A story of Robert Burns, cemeteries and bowling clubs and did I always want to be an artist ? Car doors slamming, engines idling , seagulls screeching, trolleys squeaking. Look out for the funny shaped building near Tescos, my swansong he said. I shall .