Watching the changing hues of a highland sky from the discomfort of a pile of rubble on my friend’s croft, I became aware of the broken pipe in my peripheral vision. Mesmerised by contrast, as ever, I drank in the moment. So poignant and meaningful. Just glancing at this image takes me right back to the moment – the smells, the sounds, the feeling of the air, not to mention the midges!
An old box full of old trinkets, wrapped in old newspaper turning brownie-orange with age and an old watercolour placed on top.
Woman in woods
“Ah, at last.”
Out of breath and quite tired now, she had finally reached the pathway.
“Had she remembered it accurately?” she wondered.
It was so long ago now, almost 10 years!
She paused to get her breath back.
Then, standing quite still, she breathed in the earthy aroma.
“Pure heaven scent.” She said aloud to herself.
Then breathed it in again and again, indulging in the effect of the scents of spruce and pine, rotting wood and vegetation, a mustiness that clings to insides of the nostrils and almost takes your breath away if you breathe too deeply.
The breeze was gentle, making a soothing hiss as it wound its way through the branches and needles.
With each breath, memories came flooding back.
The odd tear of compassion and joy rolled down her cheek as she indulged in times forgotten – until now.
“I suppose I had better see if I can find it. It’s going to look quite different now.”
She began to move along the path. Her senses heightening as the memories continued to flow. Her heart quickening in her chest, part in anticipation, part in trepidation.
“I do hope I can find it after all this time,” she whispered to herself.
Then….. there was a crack of a twig being snapped and a loud rustling noise coming from up ahead in what looked like a thicket.
She stood quite still.
A multitude of thoughts bombarded her mind. Her heart racing and breath quickening, she tried to breathe more quietly, hoping she was invisible whilst at the same time readying herself to run.
Then out of the undergrowth a young man fell to the ground with a thud and a cry of pain.
She stared at him, momentarily frozen to the spot.
Should she run, or go and help.
Glaringly aware she was alone, her mind told her to run.
But somewhere deep inside another voice was heard telling her to stay. Wait, reassess in a moment.
She checked how she felt, then how the young man felt to her. He didn’t feel bad.
Then he noticed her.
He looked startled, frightened, embarrassed.
He went to get up and winced.
He’s twisted his ankle.
“Damn, what a fool I look, he inwardly chastised himself. Typical, had to do it in front of an audience!”
He saw the look on her face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked.
“Only a slightly twisted ankle,” he replied, suppressing the excruciating pain.
“My name’s Alasdair, Alasdair MacPherson,” he said struggling to his feet and brushing off the undergrowth that had wrapped itself around him.
“I’m Katie Stewart,” she replied, still remaining at a safe distance.
The name seemed to trigger a reaction deep within, she repeated it over in her head. A vague recollection of a face drifted across her mind.
“Was this the same person? There were slight similarities. But then we can always see what we want to see. Must approach this logically,” she thought to herself.
“Katie Stewart? Not the Katie Stewart. From Drumbeg?”
“Yes, that’s me. How do you know me?”
“Well, we were both at school with Charlie Henderson. Remember. We used to skive off school and come up here to hide.”
“Yes, I remember you now.”
“It’s nearly 10 years since Charlie had to leave Scotland when his parents emigrated to Australia. And 9 years since my parents moved to Edinburgh.”
“Have you lived here all that time?”
“No, I moved to Edinburgh too, but 6 years ago.”
“Have you come here today for the same reason I have?” she asked, hoping that it was.
He chuckled, “Maybe,” a twinkle of mischief in his eye.
A rush of excitement rippled through her. This could be an even better experience than she had anticipated.
They stood in silence, watching each other’s body language and sensing each other’s reactions.
“Did you find it then?…..Before you fell into a thicket!” she added with a touch of friendly sarcasm in her voice.
A momentary flicker of embarrassment washed over his handsome face. He checked it quickly.
But he couldn’t maintain his composure and a smile burst forth that gave the game away.
“You have!” she sang excitedly.
“Come on it’s just through here.”
He led the way.
A few hundred feet and there it was……
….. A magnificent spruce tree stood before them towering over 10 feet tall. And flapping in the breeze, way up near the top branch was the orange ribbon (what was left of it) that they had tied to it almost 10 years ago.
They stood there, in awe of its beauty. Each reliving their own memory of the day they planted it and how they’d promised to meet up 10 years later.
Alasdair broke the silence.
“This deserves a celebration, don’t you think?” He looked at Katie enquiringly, inside hoping she would agree.
“Yes, I think it does.”
“I wonder if Charlie’s remembered?” they both thought to themselves.
Flavours with a Touch of Nostalgia
I’m not hooked on any flavour
More enthralled by variety
The simple things they taste the best
And deliver, or create satiety.
There’s fresh apples off the tree
Strawberries from the banking
And herbs galore, couldn’t want for more
For all of this I’m thanking.
Most food these days doesn’t taste of much
So I opt to grow my own
No chemicals are added because I value life
And believe your reap what’s sewn.
Now the taste of my potatoes, well
Transports me back in time
When life was just and fair and slow
Crammed full of flavours every day ‘til my enforced bedtime.
Oh my, what a prompt. Set me off on a long journey of aromas.
I wandered back in time, ambling around the garden remembering the different flowers, then sauntering along the country lanes recalling all the different hedgerow blossoms and scented verges.
Which led to the evocative aromas of the Scottish Highlands. The smell of moist peat, bracken and ling merging with the heat of a warm sunny day. It is a smell that reaches so deeply inside, you really have to experience it to believe its effect.
Then onto that most heavenly musty moist mix of all sorts of smells blended together as a consequence of a shower of rain in the middle of summer. Whenever it happens, my world stops, wherever I am. I am gripped by the experience and indulge fully in the moment.
I have always been very sensitive to smell – a curse and a blessing!
I know when certain people are thinking about me as I become aware of the smell I associate with them. It comes across as strong as if I was with them in person.
For years after my grandma died I kept smelling rice pudding cooking, immediately I was transported back to the kitchen. Then my mind would join in and add the smell of the kitchen and the personal aroma of grandma.
My mother reappeared with the smell of cooked tomatoes, something we both loved and probably the only thing we ever shared. I have never quite mastered the exact taste when I make them, probably on account of being unable bring myself to add the excessive amount of butter she used to cook them in.
I simply adore the scent of the lilac which transports me back to grandma’s front garden with its giant lilac bush in the corner. As a child I was known for sticking my nose into every flower to investigate its scent.
But my all-time favourite has to be the May blossom, so captivatingly beautiful at this time of year. Her heady scent so invasive, I can smell her with the car windows closed. She evokes so many joyful memories of warmer days and even warmer rainy days. Each time I smell her, the world stops for a moment. And another cherished memory is born.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Smell You Later.”
Most people who currently know me have no idea that I was wild when I was younger. I did everything at break-neck speed. For me slow meant old. I had to get wherever I was going yesterday. I was full of life and mischief, with boundless energy.
I used to run as fast as my legs would take me, cutting corners on country lanes to shorten the journey time to wherever I was going. I was usually a lot faster going home for fear of being grounded.
When I started using a bicycle I would pedal that as fast as I could too.
Later on when I got my first car, which was ancient as my dad wouldn’t let me buy anything modern, I can remember driving down a steep hill, my foot flat to the floor, overtaking everyone in sight. As I passed them I glanced over my shoulder before I moved back into the inside lane and caught a glimpse of the driver looking at me aghast. I must have looked a rare sight as you didn’t see cars that old travelling quickly.
I wasn’t allowed to have a motorbike but when I turned 18, I sold my car and bought one, much to my parent’s horror. Needless to say, I wrung its neck everywhere I went.
I only fell off once, well when I was moving! I seemed to fall off regularly when I was stationary. Something to do with not being able to perform in front of a crowd.
The one time I fell off moving was down our driveway. I always used to arrive like a maniac, probably to annoy my mother who was always determined to bring a halt to any form of fun. This particular day it backfired on me. My dad had been mixing concrete and there was a residue of sand outside the back door. I came along like a bat out of hell, locked up all wheels, the bike when down and me with it as we slid past the back door and into the garage. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. It must have looked like something from a cartoon strip.
I can picture it now, low flying wayward daughter, manic mother clad in pinny (apron), bounding out of the kitchen door ranting at me. It hurt like hell (I only had office quality trousers on) and the last thing I needed was a violent earbashing. After that I always wore thick jeans and bought a bigger, faster bike!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma.”
Lingering is something I used to do a lot of when I was younger. Looking back, some part of me must have felt that I would never experience anything as good again and the way my childhood panned out that was more often the case.Hanging on until the very last moment and being dragged away from something was torture.
At some point in time along the way I did a complete turn-around. I momentarily linger in a way that is a fully drinking in of whatever it is I am experiencing. I am so deeply entrenched in the moment that I am not consciously connected to any beginning or end. Thing is you see, I like change. Though occasionally I can loathe it.
But generally I enjoy the beginning of the next thing, there is always something new just around the corner. I have no wish to linger on anything for too long. Some part of me knows when to move on.
I stop, drink in the view. It touches me so deeply on all levels that if I choose, I can remember it again at a later date. But I probably won’t, I will be too deeply involved in my next moment in a similar way that takes me to that wondrous place on an inner level where time has no meaning.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”
Three pages to complete one sum to you and me.
I wasn’t that bad at maths but differentiation?… I could not make any sense of it. It took up half the school exercise book and usually ended up at least 3 pages to answer just one question.
Now if someone had told me why we would use such a confusion calculation I may have taken more interest. I have a vague recollection of someone telling me that I could use it in mechanical engineering.
But at the time, I hated it. I feared it.
The O’Level examinations were looming fast and I just couldn’t get anywhere with grasping my understanding of it.
We were regularly sitting mock tests and I was expected to pass the exam. I can remember being told not to worry about it as the previous year they had a paper on the dreaded subject so we wouldn’t be getting it again that year.
Haha. No kidding. You’ve guessed it!
We had one full paper totally on the dddreaded dddifferentiation. And guess what?
Yep. I failed!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”
Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.
Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.
It has taken me quite a long time to think about this one. My immediate reaction to the question of my most prized possession was a blank. Ziltch, Nothing.
Now even I know that can’t be true.
The most precious thing to me is my son, but I don’t own him. He is not a possession. Let’s think again …
Hours later, I had decided it was maybe my car. I love my freedom. From the age of 17 I had my own car. I scrimped and saved for eons to buy it. I had been learning to drive since I was about 14 years old. That is, I read and re-read the current driving manual which explained everything there was to know about cars and driving. The closest I got to actually driving a car was to sit in my father’s treasured Austin and pretend to drive! Under no uncertain terms was I to be allowed to drive his car until I had passed my driving test. Dream on. And dream on I did.
We lived on a country lane on the edge of a small village with the nearest bus stop over a mile away. This meant a long walk twice a day if I was going to college, or four times a day if I was going out in the evening to see a friend. Perfectly manageable when the weather was nice, a joy when the first green buds of spring appeared or when the wild flowers were in full bloom, or the autumn leaves had started to show. But when it was wet and windy or in the icy depths of winter it was a hike and a half. As I insisted on wearing fashionable clothes, which then were high heeled wedges and baggy trousers, even the slightest breeze (added to the speed that teenagers moved at) caused the trousers to wrap themselves around my legs threatening to throw me headlong onto the muddy path or at best slow me down with a gait akin to a Chinese lady with bound feet. Is it any wonder I was an angry teenager?
So becoming mobile was a must and getting my own car meant a modicum of independence.
Over the years I treasured my cars, the freedom they gave me. They became my sanctuary and a place where I tuned in to another world. Most of my questions were answered whilst I drove around the countryside taking in the terrain, indulging in the beauty.
But is it really my most treasured possession?
No, my most treasured possession is the box of photographs taken of my son when he was a baby, but that’s another story for another day.