A wild road. Roodyards, a small highway, bounded by high walls and fencing connected Broughty Ferry Road and East Dock street in Dundee. It runs north south, overlooking a four lane thunderous dual carriageway, the east coast mainline train track, gas works, the docks and finally to the Tay. This crumbling one hundred and fifty metre crumbling tarmacadammed thoroughfare is now abandoned, left to its own devices. It is impossible to see its entire length, now overgrown with bramble, dockan, buddleia and more, you get the picture. On the left is an old cemetery, it lies beyond the old city limits, originally the final resting place for strangers and seafarers, their small headstones simply declaring their date of death and surname. To the right stood a factory, the ground now levelled, fenced, cctv’d. Once shipyard workers would have climbed this small incline to the pub at the top. Now young Dundonians tag the fences and walls, discarded bottles and househld dumpings furnish this space. Yet, the wildness of this corridor pushes out and through and up. A friend and I attempt an inventory of the plant species present. We find 41, not counting grasses, there are proabably more but here are a few -toadflax, bristly ox-tongue, shining cranesbill, maidenhair spleenwort, danes blood, stinking hawksbeard as well as bees, butterflies and a pair of juvenile wrens. All of these flourish in the midst of the city’s incessant momentum, a reclamation, as exciting an exploration of any wild place, this road.
Early morning the breeze rises with song – goldfinch, linnet and lark above the green scent of summer, swooning, in love.
A thief on the far shore pulls the water’s slick ripples towards them like a magician’s trick. I watch the ravelling of the sky on the loch.
Hot sun on the saltmarsh. Crusted, cracked, peeling cakes of mud. Scurvy grass and sea thrift. Gun metal grey clay smears the runnels and funnels and channels making islands and lagoons. Birdsfoot imprints skitter this shore line, darting dragonflies. Lines of wooden stumps fetch out into the belly of the river, cockling and netting. A breach in the sea wall, the incoming sea seeps like spilt tea across a kitchen floor. A thrum of insects, the hum of traffic, mega pylons, the oil refinery’s intestinal tracts edge the land, wild, dystopic, a marginal co-existence. The tide is rising.
I am back here to see the sky. Clouds sweep in on a westerley breeze, curl, swell, froth, spill over, to the drowsy cow parsley in the hedgerows. A Ukranian flag flutters above three men standing by their sheds watching the world where the river meets the sea. Retired, off- shore workers, seen the world and then some, but home is Ferryden, always. Not Montrose, no, that causes offence. A chuckle. Beyond , the fields rise up , everything green and stretching. Ships in the harbour. Sixty to eighty jobs promised. They’ve said that before. Skylark and lapwing song mark the edge of this land. And then sky, just sky. Always.