March 28, 2011
Having spent a lot of time away from Dundee recently, almost eight months to be precise, it’s been interesting to gain perspective on the city. To see it from the viewpoint of the south of England, where I’ve been staying. The south is where I come from and it’s been lovely to return – although Dundee has never been far from my thoughts.
I think the thing that is special about Dundee is something beyond what the five senses pick up, ie what you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. For me, the special thing about Dundee is a ‘feeling’ or atmosphere that is indescribable. There is a sadness and a depth mixed in with whatever it is I have missed about Dundee. Maybe there is something spiritual in this – it’s a place where the pain and yearning of God can be felt.
What is certain is that the whole earth is yearning and groaning for the return of the Saviour. There is a verse about this in the Bible, in the book of Romans (Romans 8:22) – “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Googling the verse just now, I came across this intriguing passage -
“Both only here in the New Testament. The simple verb ὠδίνω to travail, occurs Galatians 4:19, Galatians 4:27; Revelation 12:2; and the kindred noun ὠδίν birth-pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3. See on Mark 13:9; see on Acts 2:24. Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God’s children. “Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears” (Schelling, cited by Godet).” [From the website: http://bible.cc/romans/8-22.htm.%5D
I had never thought of Dundee as a bride who has lost her bridegroom on her wedding-day before!!
July 31, 2010
Two and a quarter hours of unhurried walking – from Nelson Street, to the Law Hill, then back again. I’ve already written about this walk – a fine, still clear summer evening about a week ago, when I took photos of the pine woods, and of shocking pink willow-herb flowers. How did I manage to stretch an hour’s walking that long? My pace was really extremely leisurely that night.
Even quite ordinary buildings looked serene and special in that beautiful golden glow. However, this photo is very shadowy. Well I know that’s not ideal, but I love the way that, standing under this rowan tree with its muddy coloured pale orange fruits, from this quiet cul-de-sac, you are given an unusual view of the Hilltown – a busy thoroughfare which looks anything but busy seen from this angle. Anyone who knows the Hilltown will recognise in the middle distance, the pie shop with its upper storey painted white and its lower storey a distinctive, jolly crimson shade.
July 31, 2010
This beautiful rainbow greeted my eyes when I came through to my living room, earlier this evening.
Sunlight, and a shower. As rain drummed on the pavement outside, the colours of the rainbow grew more intense, moment by moment, getting stronger and darker the harder the rain fell. Then the downpour stopped, and the rainbow began to grow dim.
I phoned a friend who lives a few streets away suggesting she look out of her window. She asked me first which direction to look in – I said the side opposite to your block’s main entrance. She worked out she would need to look out of her kitchen window. By the time she got to it, the rainbow was just starting to fade - it had lost its ‘foot’, the part nearest the horizon – only a little bit of it in the middle of the sky was left. Slowly the colours were getting fainter and fainter. As we discussed what we were both seeing, it gradually disappeared.
July 25, 2010
I just thought – after posting my ‘Law Hill’ post – that I should explain, with a photograph that is, what rose-bay willow-herb flowers look like. As it’s not everyone who knows the name of this beautiful plant.
It grows so freely and abundantly, here in Scotland and also in England, that I am sure you will recognise it. It’s so common and so beautiful, and yet, for some reason it doesn’t seem to have entered the national consciousness, so to speak. Have you ever read a poem about rose-bay willow-herb, or heard it mentioned in a folksong? No I haven’t either!
In North America apparently it’s known as fireweed as it makes such a quick reappearance after fire has devastated the plant life in an area.
Let’s hear it for the humble rose-bay willow-herb!
July 25, 2010
Long shadows, blue sky, and a still, quiet evening. July in Dundee, and the rose-bay willow-herb is out! Tall spires of deep pink. On rowan trees, the berries are beginning to ripen - at the moment, still a weak colour, their vibrant bright orange not quite here yet (we need a bit of sunshine first!)
The other day, I took lots of photos as I made my way from the Hilltown up to the Law for an early evening stroll. It was peaceful and calm. The view from the Law was magnificent as usual, and in the woods on the Law tall dusky pink foxgloves were growing. There’s something very private-looking about foxgloves growing under trees - perhaps because they love the shade. I know some people consider these flowers weeds but there’s something so appealing about the way these stems are packed full of flowers-within-a-flower, sometimes the stems being so overloaded with them that it is surprising that they manage to stay upright!
On the steep, bare (ie only short grass growing) hillside near the summit of the Law, I noticed something that looked like sheep’s wool. It looked very white and clean. I wondered what the story behind that was. Sorry I didn’t take a photo – it didn’t occur to me to do that at the time.
March 18, 2010
Remember a couple of posts ago, I mentioned a poem? (The post about the Tay with ice in it – just little bits of ice, but still, that was highly unusual.) I held back from actually including the poem. (What is it about threatening to read people one of your poems, that automatically makes them groan? I know there’s an awful lot of bad poetry about, and hopefully that is the reason…..)
The poem doesn’t mention the ice, just the colours that were so striking that day.
The Not-so-silvery Tay
I’m not just the ‘silvery Tay’ of which McGonagall spoke,
I am beige, off-white, and eggshell blue, and even the colour of smoke.
The winter sunset makes of me a canvas on display
as I mirror all the beauty of the dying of the day.
In places I am primrose-tinted – lovely, delicate and light,
In places I reflect the sun – a dazzling, sizzling white.
Look at my waters closely, and you’ll see the muddy shade
Of the creamiest, tastiest kind of sweet that man has ever made -
Yes a part of my reflections is exactly the colour of fudge.
And there’s also a little bit of them that’s an orangey-pinky smudge.
No, I’m not just the ‘silvery Tay’ well-loved by that McGonagall fellow -
I am apricot, peach, and pearl and honey, and a wonderful tawny yellow!
March 18, 2010
It’s all change in the Hilltown! This photo was taken in or near Alexander Street – not sure exactly where, now. All I know is there seems to be heaps of rubble everywhere I look, near my home in Nelson Street.
The fish and chip shop in Hilltown, near where the Highwayman used to be, stands isolated, without the parade of shops and buildings behind it. I don’t know if it’s destined for the chop, as well. The flats in Ann Street have already gone and I am wondering what will replace them.
The photo below shows the fish and chip shop – it used to be overshadowed by tall buildings, now you can see the domes of the catholic church in Forebank Street rising above it! (Does anyone else remember when the two domes of that church were painted gold, for the Millennium Year?)
February 14, 2010
One March evening, last year, not long before ‘change the clocks’ weekend – when it really starts to feel like spring – I passed these daffodils on the way to a friend’s house. I was in Alexander Street, in the Hilltown area.
In the misty evening light, at the end of a cloudy day, the yellow flowers’ brightness really stood out. In the poor light their shapes were vague, giving the impression of blobs of colour. The mist was so thick, you could taste it.
The longer evening light gave the evening an upbeat feel, despite the fact that visibility was deteriorating as I progressed up towards Clepington Road! The ‘elfin’ appearance of this variety, with their flicked-back petals, added to their charm.
Daffodils and Dundee….I think if there’s something I’m proud of in Dundee, it’s the generous bulb planting! The swathes of daffodils between Dundee and Broughty Ferry, planted by the main road in the broad verge, are an uplifting sight.
There’s a wonderful roundabout, near Glamis Road, that is always covered in them. But my favourite daffodils in Dundee are the ones that grow among the gravestones in The Howff, because of the natural way they are planted, in clumps here and there.
The smell of daffodils is so hard to describe, yet isn’t it one of spring’s most wonderful smells?! It’s so vibrant and fresh, with the zest and ‘bounce’ of spring. Yet there’s nothing heavy, or heady, about it. Unlike lily scent, there’s no danger of it bringing on a headache. It has just enough sweetness to prevent the freshness being harsh.
This photo was taken at a pottery shop in Crail, also last March. Numerous pots were on display in the small, rectangular courtyard attached to the shop. A bunch of daffodils had been placed in this jug. It really lit up the courtyard, that still, grey day of early spring.
Recently I treated myself to some daffodils, so I’m about to add a photo taken indoors, of a ‘bunchlet’ of bargain blooms. I think the flowers are a little out of focus. But you can see clearly the leaves – with their very slight tinge of something that isn’t green – a faint white colour, on their surface.
February 5, 2010
About three weeks ago the Tay was frozen – although obviously only partially. (Imagine if you could’ve walked across between the two bridges! That would have been an experience.) The day I witnessed this wonderful happening, I saw a heron on the shore; and someone pointed to an ice floe, and said there was a seal sitting there. I think his camera had a zoom he was looking through or else he was using binoculars – I couldn’t see the seal. But just hearing that there was one, was quite exciting in itself.
It was tempting to focus only on the extraordinary sunset unfolding – burning itself out – in front of me. I took tens of photos of just the Tay and the railway bridge, and a few looking the other way, towards the road bridge. Then as an afterthought, almost, I took a few that included the buildings, the walkway and a few people, next to the river. These turned out to be the nicest photos! See above for one of them.
I hope you like the rose and cream spots, up in the sky, each one with its mirror image in the Tay. Somehow these make me think of blushes, perhaps applied by a make-up brush. Yes there is certainly much more to the Tay than the ‘silvery Tay’! I have written a poem about that (but won’t foist it on you just yet!)
PS I think I made a bit of a mistake in my last post. All about ‘My cobbled street’. Well today I walked down to Victoria Road (it was a moist, dull day), and thought, what was I saying about cobbles. The street was clearly just paved an old-fashioned way. (Cobbles are round, and these are not a bit round).
I was struck by how remarkably different these pavings look, with the sun glowing at the bottom of the street, and making the Tay a bright silver band, almost too bright to look at, compared with how they were today. The sun brings out little shadows and shines in them. I am so grateful for the moody unpredictability of our British weather!
Well, I did say the Tay is not just the ‘silvery Tay’, but to be honest, when it’s at its silveriest, I think that’s when it’s at its very best. What do you think?
February 4, 2010
I feel very blessed living in a street with cobbles. Only half the street is cobbled – the bottom half, that leads down to Victoria Road – and every time I walk down, whether consciously or unconsciously, I am appreciating the fact of those cobbles.
It’s so hard to tell whether it’s nostalgia and the associations of cobbles that make me love them, or whether I would love them anyway. I suspect the former! So hard isn’t it, to know why we feel the things we feel, even think the things we think.
Self-control is one of the Biblical ‘fruits of the Spirit’. But no-one will ever be in full control of their lives. Naturally, working at self-control is important, specially if you lack it. But most of us, probably, at times forget that we’ll never be in full control of our lives.
I can’t even control my reaction to a cobbled street. I certainly couldn’t control the date of my birth, nor what I look like (by and large), nor the basics of my personality. They are all pre-set, so to speak. I can’t change them.
Perhaps there will come a day when these cobbles will be taken up, to be replaced by smooth tarmac. I hope not. Either way, I have no control over the Council’s decision. I just hope I’ll be able to control my emotions if, and when, this change takes place….!