The Tuesday tree: a blustery day
After a nine-hour power cut, I’m back ‘on air’ just in time to get a Tuesday tree in before Wednesday. We have had a tremendous gale over Scotland. Beginning with rising winds on Sunday, it has only now, late on Tuesday evening, blown itself out. As usual, our power lines were brought down by falling trees, but the engineers have had thousands of similar cases to deal with today and so we were without power for longer than usual. Anyway, here I am at last.
The wind has been buffeting around the castle, pulling slates from the roof and sending showers of dust, pebbles and hapless woodlice down the chimneys from time to time. It was a nor’wester, a wind that seems to creep through every crack in these ancient walls and send chilly whispers into each room. Last night I even lit the wood stove, as much to comfort myself and the dogs with its glow as for warmth. With my husband away and my small son off school sick, I have had a bit of a seige mentality today and stayed inside as much as possible.
This is strange weather for May, more like the squalls of April or even of the spring equinox. The poor trees have suffered badly in the wind as they are in full leaf now: the ground is littered with torn branches and leaves. When I did finally venture out with my little boy to walk the dogs this morning, we soon found our path blocked.
A massive limb has been torn from a sycamore near the house. I never thought of this sycamore as particularly big, but a single bough from it does seem to cover a huge amount of ground. There were smashed branches and bundles of leaves scattered over thirty feet or more. While I was still trying to work out how to get past the main body, younger son was already in the thick of it, making the most of a novel climbing frame.
Being a mum I was, of course, a little anxious about further branches coming down on us while we delayed: the wind was still tearing about, making us have to shout to hear each other. For my son, though, this fallen tree was an opportunity not to be missed. It was worth being off school with a tummy bug to have the chance to explore this!
On the whole, I think we have got off very lightly. Some of our neighbours have lost dozens, even hundreds, of trees in exposed areas. We are relatively sheltered: in the policies (the grounds immediately around the castle) there seems to be little serious damage. Even this sycamore is still in good shape, despite the missing limb.
Our Blustery Day did remind me, though, of A. A. Milne’s classic story of Winnie the Pooh’s blustery day, in which Owl’s tree was blown down and Piglet was the reluctant hero of the hour. (If you need to be reminded of their escapades, do have a listen to the deliciously entertaining audio version performed by Stephen Fry, Jane Horrocks, Judy Dench and other stellar British actors. It’s our favourite accompaniment to long car journeys.) I must admit that small son and I were glad to get safely home for – as Pooh would say – a little smackerel of something.