Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Coming and Going on the Ebb Tide

On the eve of the last day of the hottest April in 300 years, we are heading south to Inverness. Tomorrow, May Day, we have lots of things to do, but this evening drive is our own time carved out of the business of farming and the chores of everyday life. We have not had a road trip adventure for some time, and the weather is perfect for it.

The persistent pervasive grey of late winter into spring has given way to what I call the Blue Period. The brighter light of a more ambitious sun, shining from high in the sky working now from early morning through to a long twilight, lures from the grass an eye-popping green and a palette full of blues. The sky is a clear cerulean blue; the sea, French marine blue, with hints of indigo, teal, and ultramarine. The occasional cloud casts a navy blue or ultramarine shadow. As if the blue sea-skyscape were not enough to hold you fast in wonder, the gorse are a riot of wild yellow flowers to make the blue even more intense.

The sun is warm and the air is soft and seductive. It is a pleasure to breathe it in. We open the sun roof and savor the air and the light and the freedom of the road. As we head south, the milder weather reveals itself with a spring now full in bloom. The gorse serenade us along the road and then patches of oilseed rape explode among the greening barley and grasses with sheep and fresh ploughed tattie fields with a yellow that is even more outrageous than the gorse. I stare in disbelief and a quiet, childlike smile spreads across my face.

As we pass the Berriedale Braes, whose steep curves have been softened by several months of roadworks from white knuckle driving to just be careful curves, we come back within sight of the ocean--never far, but temporarily out of sight. We see a har beginning to creep across the top of the ocean. It stands out because it is white, only vaguely tinted with the blue of everything around us. The har, a stream of moist damp air, moves as if of its own volition rather than pushed or pulled by the winds. And so it crawls and hovers above the water and moves slowly onto land. It is more of a curiosity than an inconvenience: a brief realignment of land-sea priorities in a season of changing temperatures.

As the road climbs upward again, we can feel that we are now in the har. The air is moist and rich and cool. It has wrapped us in its embrace as it moves along the warm land. We drive through it and as we descend, we leave it behind. The road now passes through a village that proudly displays a sign touting its beach. It is a magnificent beach, but the tide is out now and the stones usually held in the water's embrace look lost and startled as if embarrassed to be seen in their naked state.

We are far enough south now that the leaves are out on the birch trees. The leaves are still small and new, so their bright green twitters and shimmers in the light breeze. The barley in the fields is showing green, the lambs are out prancing behind their mothers, and lilacs and tulips and other garden flowers that must wait more patiently for their debut up north are in full bloom here.

After a night in one of our favorite hotels, we spend an over-packed day in the city of Inverness. Although I like Inverness and am even beginning to know my way around it, I am eager to be home. The tide is out once again, but I pay little attention to the naked stones in their loneliness or even the gorse or the oilseed rape. Instead, I welcome the soft brown roundness of the mound and, eventually, the navy blue silhouette of Griam Beg and Griam Mor--the silhouette that says home.


At 1:18 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I love this account. I could visualize and felt I was in the car with you two. What is a Griam? The differences between latitudes seem more pronounced in Scotland than in Indiana.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

thank you for this, and especially for the har. I love all things wind and haven't heard of this before.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

A pleasant journey in a pleasing landscape.

Warmest in 300 years, eh? Don't tell Al Gore.

I just checked what Tom Skilling (Chicago TV weather guru)had to say about April temperatures in Chicago:

"Cool winds off Lake Michigan Monday took a big bite out of the 80° temperatures which proved such a welcome treat here this past weekend. But, record breaking early season heat wasn’t far away. Nearly four dozen weather observation sites from Nebraska across Iowa and downstate Illinois—15 in Illinois alone—recorded 90° highs. The July-level readings established new records at a number of locations. Though Chicago’s lakefront managed only a 58° high and O’Hare checked in at 67°, Pontiac—just 90 miles to the southwest recorded 90° and downstate Danville laid claim to the state’s highest temperature of 93°.

* * *

April closed just over a degree below normal making it the first sub-normal April since 2000."

It all kind of averages out. But it's May now and the leaves are almost out... and will be all out in a couple of days. As it's supposed to be....

At 12:25 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hayden, I just bought the first publication of the Cloud Appreciation society (I can't find the title just now), but leafing through it suggests that a har is "an advective fog". As a former technical writer, I like knowing such terms, but as a chronic poet I also like the more metaphoric descriptions.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Ms Piggy: Computer ate my reply to you: griam is, I think, just a name. Beg and mor are derived from Gaelic and mean big and small respectively. Griam Begh and Mor are the close-in view hills to the left as you come to the farm from Thurso.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Cur, computer ate my reply to you also. Please forgive slow response. Yeah this global warming thing over here has become a political bandwagon. Greenies use it to drive all kinds of things and politicians are using it to tax the bejeebers out of it. Neither one is going to address the problem of basically being gentler with our planet regardless of what it is doing.


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