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World Focus on British Isles Coronation May Miss Historical Nuances Within Kingdom

WORLD FOCUS ON BRITISH ISLES CORONATION MAY MISS HISTORICAL NUANCES WITHIN KINGDOM

FIRST WEDNESDAY SURFACING from UNDERGROUND WRITER’S CAVERN into LIGHT OF DAY to WELCOME MAYDAY/BELTAINN CELEBRATING SPRING/ONSET OF SUMMER/ RETURN OF HOPE & JOY & PROMISE

Both Barack Obama and Nainoa Thompson were born in Oahu, Hawai’i—one ten years before the other. Both have grown up to influence a world which has lost its way, and both have taken a lead in altering the course of Mankind for its greater good.

Barack Obama b. August 4, 1961 Honolulu, HI; Nainoa Thompson b. March 11, 1953

“Like Hokule’a captain Nainoa Thompson says, ‘We’re all in the same canoe.’

“We’re all on this planet Earth together, so it makes sense to get along and change things for the greater good-together.”

44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, 1st to implement 2015 Paris Agreement Carbon Neutral goal during his tenure, 2009-2017.

Huntly, Aberdeenshire: Rich Rival Gordon [Catholic] Stronghold Enraged James VI & I So Much, He Forgot Position as King of England, Personally Hacked Coat of Arms on Doorway

Elizabeth I’s rule of England in 1500s was remarkable for its peace & prosperity & fact that she refused to align herself with royal houses of Europe. She died childless & throne passed to her cousin James VI of Scotland & I of England in 1603.

Willy, Willy, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three;
One, two, three Neds, Richard Two,
Harries Four Five Six, then who?
Edwards Four Five, Richard Three,
Two Harries, Edward and Bloody Mairee;
Elizabeth the Virgin Queen
Two Jameses with Charlies in between….

William and Mary, Anna Gloria
Four Georges, William and Victoria…

Ned, Geo, Ned, Geo, Liz –party pnemonic:Kings & Queens of England

John de Critz c. 1606 courtesy Dulwich Picture Gallery

James VI (Stuart) & I, cousin of Elizabeth I who died 1603 without issue

With a British coronation coming up this month, many cities in the United Kingdom of Scotland, England, Wales & N.Ireland [+oceanic territories & dominions of the far-reaching British Commonwealth) will be celebrating.

Unfortunately, because of an internal lack of foresight on the part of the soon-to-be king, many regional territories within the island chain have felt discarded-superfluous even-[pic far rt below]as Buckingham Palace has been concentrating on a round-the-country series of events—breakfasts, [ancient feast-days] streetside “Big Lunches” & picnics in the run up to Coronation in the heart of London at Westminster Abbey, seated on 1066 Edward the Confessor’s Coronation Chair, with Scotland’s crowning stone: Stone of Destiny (royal Stone of Scone, Perthshire, pic.1 below left) in position under the seat. After coronation it will be returned to Edinburgh Castle.

The Stone of Destiny/Stone of Scone usually resides—along with other Scots royal regalia—in throne room of Edinburgh Castle, pic.lower left above, under protection of @Nat_Trust_Scotland, alongside crown & sceptre, dolphin staff of sovereignty & other crowns of the North. Pic 2 left above shows Scotland’s Lord Lyon King of Arms Lord (Johnny) Douglas-Hamilton bearing regalia for HM The Queen on her last visit to Scotland before she died last year. That particular crown is Scotland’s oldest, created from Rhynie [ABD] gold & pearls from River Ythan, Buchan ABD. Pic 1 top where Stone of Scone used to reside, Scone Palace, Perth.

Forgetting his Elevated Position, Resorting to Childlike Behaviour

Interestingly, when James VI & I was given dominion over England as well as Scotland in 1603, one would have thought honour would have consumed him, banishing all other jealous or childlike thoughts forever. His ancestors, from Guardian of Scotland William Wallace, to Stuart kings before him, had longed to subjugate the southern kingdom from the time of the 1308 Herschip o’ Buchan [wholesale destruction by burning of Scotland’s eastern landmass of ancient Caledonian Forest] by self-crowned Robert Brus in his mindless rampage north to destroy Comyn rivals in Buchan, & coastal Morayshire; when Edward I, Hammer of Scots first demanded subservience.

Instead, one of first actions James chose was in fact to follow a long-time grievance against powerful [Roman Catholic] Earls of Huntly whose ‘Gret Place’ [Palace] of Strathbogie between Aberdeen & Moray coast rankled. From Wars of Independence, through 14th century protestantism throughout the land, Huntly had maintained staunch Roman Catholic ties. It also held sway over one of the richest agricultural valleys [between Deveron-Bogie rivers] in inland Aberdeenshire.

Original castle, known as the Peel of Strathbogie, was built by Duncan II Earl of Fife on the Strathbogie estate some time around 1180 and 1190.

Earl Duncan’s third son, David, inherited Strathbogie estate, later-through marriage-became Earls of Atholl around 1204. During Strathbogie ownership, Robert Brus was a guest after razing Caledonian forests in Herschip o’ Buchan.

The family was loyal to him throughout this awful vendetta, but before [Bruce’s win at] Bannockburn 1314, David of Strathbogie shifted his support to the English. Bruce saw this as treachery and granted the castle and estate to Sir Adam Gordon of Huntly because he was consistently loyal.

In 1506, the castle was officially renamed Huntly Castle. Although the castle was burned to the ground, a grander castle was built in its place.

Huntly—an Aberdeenshire Favourite Royal Haunt

In 1496, Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne, was married to Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly and Jas. IV was guest at their wedding. James IV came from Edinburgh to Huntly in October 1501 and gave gifts of money to the stonemasons working on the castle. In October 1503, James IV came again and played in a shooting contest at the “Prop” target in the grounds. He came back the following October, on his way south, accompanied by four Italian minstrels and an African drummer. James IV played cards at the castle 10 October 1505 and gave a tip to masons working on the building. These visits were part of the king’s annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Duthac at Tain, Rossshire.

Architecturally L-plan, the castle still consists of a well-preserved five-story tower with an adjoining great hall and supporting buildings. Areas of the original ornate carved façade, above rt. and interior stonework remain from early 16thC. The grounds, though less imposing today, stretched for several acres through rich agricultural farmland which supported all of Earl Huntly’s household, with loads to spare for tenants, friends and neighbours.

Wings were added to the castle in the 16th and 17th centuries. English diplomat Thomas Randolph stayed two nights in September 1562, and wrote that the castle was “beste furnishede of anye howse that I have seen in thys countrie”.

Its rich landholdings attracted other royals.

Royals with more Warlike Intentions found Reason to Enjoy Bounty

Mary, Queen of Scots decided to take the castle, to enhance her power in the kingdom, giving her reason that the Earl withheld from her a royal cannon lent to him by Regent Arran. She sent her half-brother Commendator of Coldingham, John Stewart to arrest Geo. Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly at the Castle in October 1562. On the day child’s Tutor Pitcur arrived and spoke at the gate, the castle tower watchman spotted Coldingham and the Master of Lindsay with troops a mile off. He alerted the Earl who ran “without boot or sword” and hopped over a low wall at the back of the castle, finding a horse before Pitcur could stop him.

Elizabeth, Countess of Huntly, then welcomed the queen’s men and gave them a meal and showed them around the palace. It was noted she still had her chapel furnished for Roman Catholic worship.

George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly died after Battle of Corrichie October 28, 1562; the castle was garrisoned for Mary, Queen of Scots [Queen Dec.14, 1542 until forced abdication 1567] by Crawfurd and 20 soldiers. Furnishings, including beds and 45 rich tapestries were taken to Aberdeen, then shipped in barrels to Edinburgh for the royal bedchamber and MQS’ “refurbishment”.

In 1576, Geo. 5th Earl collapsed from food poisoning, while playing football outside the Castle on the Green. He was taken to a bedchamber in the round tower, next to ‘Grit Chalmer’, Great Chamber. After he died, he was laid out in that Chamber, with his valuables in his bed-chamber.

Supernatural events then occurred: sudden collapse of a servant in the ‘Laich Chalmer’. Next day, another went to the Gallery at the top of the ‘New Warke’ where precious spices were stored. She & two others also collapsed and when revived, felt cold.

After the Earl’s body was embalmed & in the chapel, his brother sat on a bench in the Hall by the Great Chamber door, and heard unexplained sounds from inside. He said “there is not a live thing bigger than a mouse may enter that chamber with the door locked.”

James VI & I’s Jealousy his Undoing

As a child, James VI & I had witnessed his mother MQS systematically rob Huntly of rich tapestries, paintings & furnishings for her own private apartments in Edinburgh. After her imprisonment, he ruled Scotland efficiently, without sentiment as a protestant monarch for 35 years before being summoned as King of England on Elizabeth’s death, 1603. He had to have suffered much pain through his mother’s mistreatment & death; yet he masked it well.

On being visually confronted by the land of his youth, however—the abundant rich landholdings of central Aberdeenshire between rivers Deveron and Bogie in particular, where the policies of Catholic Gordons in his Protestant kingdom flourished, he must have literally “lost it”. No recourse to parliament or pretense of leniency for “misunderstood” or ignorant subjects.

He took a hacksaw, a hammer and a knife and started hacking at the Gordon initials and Coat of Arms on the delicate doorway entrance to the New Warke, left above.

His sublieutenants and courtiers waited while their monarch became exhausted and then found him a carriage and whisked him away from temptation. No-one has so far taken a ladder to erase the beautifully (though egotistically-inspired) lettering on the Castle’s main Warke but it may now seem improbable as inscriptions lie four storeys above ground.

Historical Perspective on Coronation Madness

With impending madness centred on London for next week’s great event, many will forget—perhaps philosophically, and therefore with calm forgiveness that the to-be-crowned Monarch will in all conscience never approach a gentle peaceful. loving countenance which his mother always held in her heart for ALL of her subjects.

Scotland was for HM Queen NEVER a place to wear a pretend kilt or to make false appearance of enjoying the wilderness of the North.

She literally DID love the North: Aberdeenshire, Deeside and Balmoral in particular. She may or may not have worn a tartan skirt but she always had her headscarf and handbag at the ready ❤

We love you your Majesty, r.i.p.

Writerly Word to the Wise

From our (not so insecure) Writers’ Cavern below the present Earth, as it continues on its endless rotation around our solar parent & the great Universe beyond: may we say how “admirable” it is to be calmly confident enough to forgive any and all silliness on the part of current royal pretenders who wear kilts one day as a gesture (?to what) & forget about our northern region of the British Isles on the next.

Rather should we, like the Obamas (above rt, being met on landing in Britain 2009 by HM Queen) be thankful to be able to do some good with the tools we have been given—as Obama did with his 2% emissions ceiling in Paris Agreement, or his fellow countryman, Pacific Navigator Capt. Nainoa Thompson, top of page in his four-year canoe journey to greet Pacific Islanders. It is, after all a wonderful gift to be able to put pen to paper—even tapping keyboard in higher service counts! Keep on writing, guys! ©2023MarianCYoungblood

May 3, 2023 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, environment, fantasy, fiction, history, nature, ocean, organic husbandry, popular, publishing, ritual, sacred sites, traditions, trees, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New ‘Roaring Twenties’ Generations Breathe Life into Past from a Futurist Perspective

NEW ‘ROARING TWENTIES’ GENERATIONS Breathe Life into Past from a Futurist Perspective—Create Multi-linguistic Multiculture

FIRST (WRITING) WEDNESDAY OF NEW YEAR NEW DECADE-EMERGENCE FROM (INSECURE) SCRIBE CAVE OPTIONAL

New Multi-linguistix Multiculture Shares Subconscious Synchronicities with Fans

Throughout our human past, future generations were traditionally the ones we ‘prepared the way for’, ‘made allowances for, (Boomers) ‘scrimped and saved for’ (pre-WWII) ‘did without so they could have… Several decades down the line, WWII is a distant memory for Oldies; an historical event for Millennials, iGens, GenZs. Yet, there’s full complement of #NewTweenties totally unaware of its political influence in Vintage-gen lives.

Internationally, from a social-media-altered perspective—fueled by two years’ isolation, health concerns and personal angst—the internet has developed/become a huge market for media, news, entertainment and (crucially) under-age teens’ ‘stuff’—ENHYPEN’s seven-crew member dance moves troupe, above, an ‘influencer’ group that skyrocketed to stardom over last twenty months.

Be Prepared

Be prepared!

One of many new groups surfacing through a (suppressed) creative interlude during world isolation, Korean-born Enhypen speak Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and English. Their age range is from 16-20.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you’ll recall the Beatles started playing in Liverpool as teenagers. (Sir) Ringo Starr is Richard Starkey, and Macca is short for Paul McCartney—technically pre-Boom (b.1940) oldies. Both still perform.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you’ll recall the Beatles started in a local Liverpool skiffle group as teenagers, 1963. Boomer British nicknames were all the rage then: Sir Ringo Starr (rt.) is Richard Starkey; performing with Macca (l.) Paul McCartney in 2019

Tweenties Stage a Visual Revolution in 2022

With medical resources and technology being shared globally in the current situation, culture and language barriers seem to melt: Native American knowledge revealed, Asian multilanguage interchange commonplace. Differences in generations, too, have a chance to cross (former) boundaries.

In this peripatetic iPhone world, communication by visuals rather than text becomes the norm—sacred realm of Social Media kings/queens familiar to iGens, Tweens and some six-year olds.

While Boomers (and even pre-Boomer Vintage pros) may deign to tweet occasionally (biz, professional, sports, less personal, more oldie), hardcore iGens have Twitter accounts. They also dabble in TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram and possibly also have a YouTube account to show their wares, e.g. artwork, meme graphics, cartoon and classic video art, movies, travel selfies and, most recently, drone footage from the world’s classic locations, never-before seen elevations of ancient strongholds from an angel’s view.

“When the Condor of the South flies together with the Eagle of the North, the spirit of Mother Earth—Pacha Mama—will awaken.
Then She will wake millions of her children.
This will be the Resurrection of the Dead.”
Quechua Inca Prophecy

Baby Condor reintroduction Klamath, CA

Prehistoric Landscape Remembered in Folklore Tradition

Newbie selfies are an attempt by tweens to join a venerable bunch of (#Vintage) bloggers like me—tapping out keys since 2009—described in psychiatric terms as ‘essential journaling accessories’ in maintaining mental health, by Columbia University neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez. Also adequate sleep and ‘happy-feel’ activities, particularly outdoors, promote serotonin which produces calm within.

Focus has turned on Mother Nature. Renewed commitment is high priority in Cairngorms to ‘save the Earth’, rewilding and restoring former natural pine, hazel and birch forest lost over centuries of careless husbandry. Scotland in particular has lost 90% of its former ‘wild’ Caledonian Forest—plus rainforest— c.f. Pacific redwood old growth stands sprouting 1000-year-old pine needles; rowans as old as Perth’s Fortingall yew; casualty of the Clearances: guilt added to landowner anxiety=restore, replant, rewild.

Some ancestral memory still exists from that distant time when Scotland’s Highlands, Islands and (even) Lowlands were covered in thick ancient pines (Pinus sylvatica) supporting rich arboreal/fungal understorey. Even before the Herschip o’ Buchan, 1308 burn by Bruce, when people remembered trees burning for 30 years, some isolated villages remain where ancient tree spirits are celebrated and given gifts, respect—offerings in pagan tradition.

Glen Lyon, the longest completely enclosed mountain loch in Perthshire, source of the River Tay, is held sacred by local (prefer anonymity) guardians of the Cailleach(Old Woman) and Bodach(Old Man) stone altars, especially through winter until released to grow wild again on February 2nd, ancient Candlemas.

The Old Woman—Cailleach—original creator deity of Caledonia—Roman North Britain—was celebrated in the Western and Northern Isles (now treeless and devoid of any growing medium but sheep, grouse and heather moor) as an entity disguised as a raincloud (prehistoric rainforest—are rewilders ready for extra rainfall that goes with it?) who flew in anger, dropping lightning bolts into forest canopy, starting forest fires. Shades of Pacific NW forest fires where trees burn for square miles in summer, impervious to H20.

Difficult to imagine the Old Woman gathering her skirts to set the Cairngorms alight—only heather. But time will tell.

Rewilding aka Allowing Nature to Do What She Does Best: Growth

Despite political shenanigans surrounding land ownership, traditional (post Highland Clearances) moor management (burning heather, shooting grouse), some landowners allow access to this treeless land in an attempt to encourage interest in new tree-grow projects. Scotland’s Right-to-Roam Act complicates matters in giving an impression that hiking is legal everywhere—more signs get erected in an attempt to clarify who is allowed where.

Meanwhile back in Rainforest Alley aka Underground Word & Verbage Cavern camouflaged as Writing Cave Subterranean Style, we (insecure) writers have a Plan. Plant More Trees; write more stories; keep the Door (to the Future) Open. You never know who may walk right in.

Angels, Dragons, Fire & Rain, ancient ways to pick up our (writing)skirts and fly. Happy New Year 2022. ©2022 Marian Youngblood

January 5, 2022 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, blogging, consciousness, culture, energy, environment, festivals, fiction, history, music, New Earth, popular, seasonal, traditions, trees, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wayback Window—Room with a Vintage View

WAYBACK WINDOW—ROOM WITH A VINTAGE VIEW

Advantages to Having #Vintage Boomers’ Writerly Perspective —First Wednesday from Beyond Time Barrier

The good writer/artist is a vehicle for truth, s/he formulates ideas which would otherwise remain vague and focuses attention upon facts which can then no longer be ignored.

Iris Murdoch 1919-1999 Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature

SEPTEMBER Northern Hemisphere Switch to ‘Autumn’ Thinking…Planting

September wasn’t always the ninth month: its name septem means seven. Roman calculation before the Julian calendar reform in 46BC began at March equinox. Julius Caesar changed Roman lives by changing how their year went. By adding days and months (January, February), he created a mode of reckoning which survived until the Reformation. It went into Roman law two years before he died, 44BC.

His Julian calendar, widely adopted in remarkably short time within the Empire, survived in the Western world for more than 1600 years until 1582, when a correction was made [Pope Gregory XIII instigation hence ‘Gregorian calendar’ revision] to correct Julian calendar’s drift against the solar year of 365.25 days. Most of Western world adopted it, Roman catholic countries before, Protestant countries after the Reformation.

Eruptions of rebellion broke out in Scotland, when the Reformed Calendar—backed by the Reformed Church—went into effect in 1752. Bemoaning their eleven ‘missing days’ in tinkering with leap years, adding and subtracting at will, making a mockery of a lifestyle usually ruled by the Ocean, they did it their own way.

Some coastal ports of the ‘North Coast’—ocean-going villages & fishing communities in Banffshire, Buchan and along Moray Firth in Northeast Scotland—protested the loss of eleven days; maintained their own rhythm by holding their own fire festival : not at New Year but during Aul’ ‘Eel (Old Yule) in second week of January. Burghead burns the Clavie Stonehaven swings man-size fireballs around the coastal town.

Other North Coast towns (Forres, Pennan & ‘The Broch’ (Fraserburgh) also kept similar rituals up until WWII, discontinued after 1945.

Burning the Clavie on Aul’Eel, left: oak whisky barrel soaked in tar set alight and carried around the town of Burghead by Clavie King and Clavie Crew Dying firebrands then hoisted up on to Doorie on castle ramparts to burn rest of night. Clavie King Dan Ralph

Rhythm of the Seasons Guides the Human Machine

Much weight has been placed in these recent times on living a healthy life, cultivating an outdoor lifestyle—walking, hill-climbing, gardening—back-to-nature open air pursuits. With increasing use of social media, charitable rewilding groups and some landowners are committed to restoring wild spaces, with plans to reintroduce extinct species. National Trust (former Royal property) Mar Lodge, top rt. before&after rewilding 2011 & 2021.

The movement has become enormously influential: countries in the former European bloc are now proud to reveal their reintroduction of (formerly endangered)rare species like wolf, boar and marten. Pacific NW and Canadian forests are responding to replanting; with activists halting clear-cut felling of ancient woodland

Scotland’s last wolf was shot in Braemar in 1720 by a Royal.

Rewilding Restoring Forest builds on Earlier Spiritual Initiatives

Present-day Royal estate of Mar Lodge (top rt., now administered by NTS) plans to follow a lead set in the ‘Sixties by the Findhorn Foundation, in their organic garden, at a time when spin-off miracle Trees for Life treeplanter-cum-earth wizard founder, Alan Watson Featherstone was bringing ancient Caledonian pine forest (and related understorey wildlife) back in Glenfeshie, and Dundreggan, near Loch Ness. Mindful of ecosystem fragility, TFL offers instruction and accommodation to volunteers in its wilderness locations.

Trees for Life is some thirty years ahead of the (top) Mar Lodge project: Before-and-after views are invaluable in locations where locals remember the treelessness—sadly almost 70% of Cairngorms National Park is still treeless—long way to go. Next decade’s #before&after pictures should be stunning!

‘We have lost most of the larger predators in Scotland. We used to have elk, auroch (wild cattle), brown bear, wildcat, wolf and lynx. We could restore all these species—there is enough space—but we do need to do a lot of habitat restoration as I don’t thihnk there’s enough habitat for them.’ Andrew Kitchener NatMusScot

‘Britain has one of the lowest forest covers of any nation in Europe at only 13%, less than half the Euro average, 38% across EU, with an increase of only 1% in the last quarter century.

‘For Scotland, most northerly of 4 Brit.nations, expanse is proportionally higher, rising from 5% to 19% in last 100 years., Much of that forest is commercial plantations—which contributes $1.4billion to the national economy, but according to rewilders, are less biodiverse.

‘Only one-fifth of Scotland’s forests are native woodlands.’

Author/Photographer Kieran Dodds &Curator of Vertebrate Biology, NatMusScotland, Andrew Kitchener

There are advantages to being a (tick one) Boomer, oldie, vintage, organio; Wartime Land Girls worked with pick & shovel. Townsfolk work garden allotments-nothing new. Some of us even remember harvesting without machines.

Trying Harder Isn’t Enough: We Have Serious EarthCare Work to Do

We’ve been experiencing another year of highest-ever temperatures, and unprecedented snowmelt of world’s most reliable glaciers. Most alarming, however, is severe drought expectancy in five States in the SW United States, fed by the Hoover Dam and Sacramento valley’s Oroville Dam (under forced repair).

Mount Shasta, below, has no snow—first time ever. The Yurok are still insisting that Atlas-Copco remove and restore dam damage on the River Klamath. Oil pipelines have been halted in B.C. and Midwest USA.

With another year of enforced isolation upon us—but with benefit of breathing fresh air—EarthFirst movements are gaining ground. More supporters provide more resources for restoring land health. Group consciousness spreads urgency on the need to replant-rewild-restore our patch of Earth so it can look after original species, us included.

Mount Shasta, iconic source of the Klamath and Sacramento rivers. Sacred source well in downtown Shasta City, CA is dry. Successive dams report low water level or-as at Oroville-inoperative; salmon hatcheries are failing.

Sacramento basin water supplies Bay Area of San Francisco & Peninsular home to most of world’s hi-tech companies Silicon Valley.

Hoover Dam provides H20 to 5 U.S. southern states, water levels below record low.

Writers’ Cave Resolution: Keep on Keeping On

Insecure or otherwise, we writers do need help occasionally to keep our nose to the grindstone. Inspiration from such New Age visionaries as Findhorn’s founders Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean who started a spiritual garden in 1968 only to see it become a world ecovillage of global influence. are invaluable in reaching our own comfort zone —albeit head-down. Some scriptorial caverns have MILES of subterranean tunnels and false passages to keep us in solitary company of our Muse. All right. Admit it. We thrive in solitary. Writing feeds the introvert scribe.

Muse speak: You may play in the sunshine; then—back in the box. Happy Kalends of September, sacred to Jupiter the Thunderer. May he see us through this dry spell and unleash his life-giving waters in time. ©2021 Marian Youngblood

September 1, 2021 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, environment, festivals, fiction, gardening, history, Muse, nature, New Earth, ocean, organic husbandry, pre-Christian, seasonal, spiritual, trees, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wars of Independence—Cultural Melting Pot

700 Years since Wallace, Wars of Independence, & ‘Hammer of the Scots’

WRITTEN HISTORY or CULTURAL FOLK MEMORY—MONTHLY MISSIVE from our INSECURE WRITERS‘ CAVE

‘Wallace Guardian of Scotland was a tall man with the body of a giant lengthy flanks broad in the hips, strong arms and legs with all his limbs very firm. He had the gift of speech and kindness’ —Walter Bower Scotichronicon

Wallace statue Aberdeen “So lang’s this stane stands on this craft
The name of Keith shall be held alaft’
But when this stane begins t’ fa’
The name of Keith shall wear awa’” Inverugie Castle, Banffshire

“As long’s there’s an eagle in Pennan
There will be a Baird in Auchmedden”*

Thomas the Rhymer

*Baird was a Keith family name–hereditary Earls Marischal and Master of the King’s Horse. In historical records of the House, a pair of eagles built their nest in the cliffs near the village of Pennan and the Bairds protected them with the greatest care and fed them by placing daily on a ledge of rock near their eyrie food and tidbits. Willam Baird joined ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie as an officer of his bodyguard at Culloden. He continued in hiding for some years after and then lived the remainder of his life at Echt House (central Aberdeenshire) where he died in 1777. Auchmedden was not confiscated, but Mr Baird had to sell it in 1750 to relieve debt contracted in support of the Stuarts. When it was bought by Earl of Aberdeen in that year, the eagles left.

400 years before that time of the Old and Young Pretenders (Stuarts), Scotland needed its nobles to stand together. Their Declaration of Arbroath, 1320, was still a pipedream. The action was around Stirling Castle on the River Forth.

Wars of Independence and the ‘Hammer of the Scots’

HISTORY REVEALS REGIONAL LOYALTY SPLIT BETWEEN NE-SW WAS BRUCE’S ACE CARD

After the death of the infant queen Margaret Maid of Norway, Scotland was without a monarch—technically an interregnum. King Edward I of England negotiated to choose a successor from several claimant Guardians of Scotland—Wallace, Comyn, Moray, Balliol—he chose John Balliol. Crowned on St.Andrew’s Day 1292 at Scone—atop the Stone of Destiny—Balliol ‘ruled as Toom Tabard’ (empty cloak, i.e. no substance to his leadership) for all of four years, i.e. until King Edward decided to invade Scotland 1296. Balliol (founder of college Oxon) was arrested, but survived, and died in exile 1314.

Galvanized by 1296 shock tactic, but flying independent banners, Scots nobility from Annandale to Badenoch, the Black Isle to Galloway grouped their forces and, with newfound zeal under Guardian William Wallace, with Andrew, Mormaer of Moray in tow, fought in the world-changing historic Battle of Stirling Bridge, September 1297. And won.

Balliol’s lineage had been important in the search for an heir to the Crown of Scotland: Norman French paternally from King David I (Huntingdon); impeccable matrilinear descent thru Pictish-Celtic princess Devorguilla. John ‘Red’ Comyn, Mormaer (Earl) of Buchan was last of Pictish line on his mother’s side, owned lands of Badenoch, Banff, Strathspey, and Buchan with fortresses, rich hunting forests, cathedrals and strong fishing grounds linking ancient maritime North Sea and Baltic routes.

Braveheart Scenario Masks Murder at the Altar

‘When Dee and Don shall run as one
And Tweed shall run with Tay
The Bonnie Waters o’ the Urie
Shall bear the Bass away.’

‘Papist’ Bourtie-ancient Bowirdin-a Battlefield

Sometime between 1170-1199, Barra-Bourtie landowner Sir Wm. de Lamberton granted an endowment charter on personal lands on his estate in favour of the Priory of St.Andrews at Kilrymounth, mid pic below. Rich endowment was added to by subsequent heirs, confirmed in 1202-06 with added acreage given; confirmed Pope Innocent III 1206, Pope Innocent IV & King Alexander 1248.

Radulf, Bishop of Aberdeen added further ‘two pleughs’ or ploughgates:100 Scots acres to kirklands between 1248-68. Effigies of medieval knight and his lady (head sever recent) probably grave of de Lamberton although tradition claims affiliate of Bruce, Thomas de Longueville, who died at 1308 Battle of Barra, in valley below kirk.

As soon as the king (Balliol) was arrested and escorted into England, all knightly valour and honour were put aside and allegiances changed overnight. Wallace (SW) and Moray (NE) combined forces and their military strength took English-occupied Stirling Castle troops by surprise. Battle of Stirling Bridge, 1297, below l. Bower’s Scotichronicon

Edward abandoned his French invasion, prepared to attack— Falkirk July 22, 1298. As at the Bridge the previous year, English numbered more than the Scots, so Wallace created defensive strategy. Pikemen of Scots foot soldiers formed schiltrons—below—circular positions where the soldiers’ 12-foot spears were turned outwards, positioned at an angle as a tactic against cavalry charges. The schiltron wounded horses’ flanks, yet protected archers ranged behind them. It was near impenetrable.

Unfortunately, it was no match for the English longbow.

The Battle of Falkirk – Kyra Cornelius Kramer
Example of the schiltron, deadly against cavalry attacks.

Wallace had used local familiarity with the River Forth estuary and its winding pockets around Stirling Bridge to confound the English, capture and kill Edward’s highest officers. His schiltrons worked. Cavalry collapsed in mud.

One year later, similar numbers, but wide open locale + added reach of Edward’s longbowmen. Scots slaughtered.

To make matters worse, Edward ‘Hammer of the Scots’ confiscated Scone’s sacred Stone of Destiny, took it by wagon to London installed it in Westminster Abbey—where it remained until returned to Scotland 1950.

Thirty Years of Burning Forests Embedded in Folk Memory

Caledonian Pine Forests Burn from Castle Country to North Sea Shore

Aberdeenshire royal forests were extensive. From Midstocket, Hazelhead, Foresterhill, Pitfodels within city limits, they extended to ancient Caledonian hunting groves under protection of local landowner-lairds like Irvines of Drum, Innes of Learney, Crathes, Birse, Forbes of Newe, Strathdon, Kildrummy (Earl of Mar), Corgarff & Huntly (Gordons) aligned with original (Roman and native) paved and unpaved drove roads to north (Moray) and south (Perthshire, rt above Dupplin), when Scone was capital (Alexander I); later Stirling on River Forth (Wallace and Bruce); currently Edinburgh. Stone of Destiny now resides in Edinburgh Castle when not needed in Westminster to crown a monarch.

From earliest annexe of the Pictish kingdom (above left Forres, ‘Sueno’s Stone’ said to show McAlpin takeover of Pictish ‘kingdom of Alba’ AD843), Scots coveted the wealth of hinterland streams and Buchan’s deep forests from mountain to coastal plain. Rich landholdings afforded longstanding family protection by the laird to all his people—the origin of ‘clan’; housing, smallholding crofts and fishing bothies guaranteed survival even through worst times. 

Guardian of Scotland, William Wallace kindled allegiances easily, had huge support unlike his peers, and Edward knew he had to go.  The English king offered a truce, but demanded he swear fealty. Wallace refused. Sometime between 1298 and 1305 he left Scotland for France, where Edward was persona non grata. Betrayed by pro-English Sir John Menteith on his return, he was arrested August 5th, 1305, taken to London and condemned as a traitor.  Three weeks later, August 23rd, he was executed in Smithfield (current meat market) his body hanged, drawn and quartered, each part sent in packages to remote regions of Scotland. 

Two years later it was Robert the Bruce who prepared to die.

Sharing Guardianship of Scotland with arch rival John ‘Red’ Comyn had ended in Brus stabbing Comyn to death—with a concealed dirk before the high altar in Greyfriars Church, Dumfries. Pope excommunicated Brus. Wounded, he proclaimed himself king in 1306. Yet defeat followed defeat, his former army fled, and the sick monarch spent three winter months 1307 hidden in a makeshift shelter near Slioch ‘in the Kingdom of the Garioch’ pron. Gee-ree.  Overwintering in a cave, gravely ill, without support of the army, the Brus believed he was going to die.

While westcoasters may argue location, the river-worn cave on the Don’s south bank outside Inverurie (former Slioch estate—RtheB ally) is the spider cave of legend, taught to children for another five centuries as rôle model of Scots perseverence and fortitude.

Bruce has Change of Heart, Burns his Way North—Herschip o’ Buchan

What greeted the (sick and ailing, aka disbelieving) self-crowned  king of Scots on awakening early May 23, 1308 from his Slioch hideout cave in Inverurie, was surprise arrival of troops in support of his claim to Comyn lands in Buchan and Banffshire.  After a brief skirmish on the fields East of Barra Castle (the battle), local Seton, Strachan and de Lamberton lairds scattered; Comyn retreated to the safety of Fyvie Castle.

It was the last straw. The Bruce army proceeded North, burning everything in its path.

While history records the cataclysmic loss of hunting forest, stream pollution and laying waste of productive arable acreage, it fails to mention Bruce’s act as a criminal, personal vendetta to destroy the offspring of his last rival—Black & Red Comyn Earls of Buchan and Badenoch—murdered in Greyfriars Church, Dumfries, 1306. By torching lands of neighbouring lairds—Herschip o’Buchan fires visible all day, all night for thirty years—he ensured no further rival claims for his kingship. He rendered the Buchan-Aberdeenshire triangle (half size of Switzerland) a scorched desert,  impoverished, disconnected, with desecrated wells and dead cattle everywhere.

Imagine NoCal  forest wildfires with no fire brigade to dowse flames—no end to roaring crackling through the night.

Bannockburn, 1314 came as a reward for his perseverance: milestone schiltron vs. longbow battle outside Stirling Castle, occupied by English, whom he routed. It was touted as his pinnacle. Or swan song.

Six years later, his Buchan legacy still flaming in public view, Comyn, Keith, Fife, Mar and Forbes abstaining, the fame was all Bruce’s.  It was shortlived. Edward II followed what the Hammer of the Scots had begun. Brus’ reign j[1306-1329] survived English domination; his nobles acquiesced—their collective signatures at Arbroath appealing to Rome for support. He even negotiated a truce with England, 1328. He died in his bed (in palatial surroundings, nevertheless: Cardross palace Dumbarton) June 7, 1329 aged 55. Not bad for an excommunicated felon.

 

Scottish wildcat's endangered habitat may be restored

CALEDONIAN FOREST REGENERATION, REWILDING, RESTORATION

Caledonian forest regeneration by private individuals and charitable groups brings back hope for endangered species: wildcat, speedwell

Think Like a Mountain Breathe Like an Ocean

Charity Trees for Life, Scotland: The Big Picture, and a phalanx of individual tree-planting/reforestation groups and landowners throughout Moray, Invernessshire, Aberdeenshire and the Mearns have found hope for a return to ancient habitat for Scotland’s (rare) red squirrel, (threatened) pine marten and (endangered) wildcat.

They join similar earth-and ocean-friendly associations of privately-funded and charitable umbrella organizations who, during a year of renewed growth and natural regeneration of wild spaces (without humans), have chosen EarthFirst contra pollution-growth-waste. We writerly types (insecure, successful or wannabe) applaud the move; would encourage personal plantings—begonia, thyme and catmint do well in cave-dweller LED lighting. Spider-friendly.

And Nature is good for us—thinking like a Mountain even better. Our Muse (privately) told us so.

Onward and upward. Happy height of summer. Look out Lammas—here we come.

©2021 Marian Youngblood

July 7, 2021 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, environment, festivals, history, nature, novel, ocean, popular, publishing, ritual, sacred sites, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pictish Inheritance in an Ancient Land

Herschip o’ Buchan and Caledonian Forest
After the 1308 Herschip o’Buchan by Robert Bruce, whose firebrands scorched their route from ‘Burgh to Broch'(Inverurie to Fraserburgh), Aberdonians recall Caledonian forest trees burned for fifty years. Centers of power shifted south, taking with them Rhynie gold and Ythan pearls—both still shine in Royal Regalia of Scotland, alongside stylized Pictish beast-dolphin in Edinburgh Castle vault. Nevertheless, Scots Pine replanting has begun!

Devorguilablog: view from the Pictish citadel

promontory stronghold on the North Sea, Dunottar dates back to Pictish era It is a little-known fact that the area surrounding the Buck of the Cabrach was celebrated in early-historical times and up to the late Medieval as a source for gold.

Kings of Picts used the resource centred on what is now called Rhynie in Aberdeenshire and much gold used for the crown jewels, prior to Robert Bruce’s takeover, was Aberdeenshire gold.

Scots regalia held in Edinburgh Castle Pearls were also sourced in Aberdeenshire from the River Ythan and the pearl in the Crown of Scotland (now in disuse) is from the Ythan (Buchan, outlet into North Sea north of Dee and Don). Kings prior to the Scots takeover AD843 had landholdings in Cé (present Aberdeenshire) and it remained one of the richest areas for royal hunting (Royal Forests of Derley, Deer, Gight, Garioch, Insch, Forgue, Cabrach, Letter (Ladder), Mar, Stocket and Udny & Dudwick); farming and artisan crafts.

The most influential ‘Celtic’ earl before Robert I…

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February 29, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, blogging, culture, environment, history, traditions, trees, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arbor Day and Earth Week

Trees: without them and our wilderness, we as a species are lost

‘Archetype of our oneness with the earth’

We used to call it Arbor Day. On the hinge between Aries and Taurus, when the Sun enters this celebratory earth sign in the western zodiac calendar: that’s the day John Muir was born in 1838. A native Scot who emigrated to the United States and changed the face of a nation, Muir was the original arborist: lover of trees.

Wolves being hunted to extinction following a change in legislation to the US Endangered Species Act

It wasn’t easy. In early 19th-century Britain or the US, wilderness wasn’t a concept naturally entertained by Victorian huntin’ shootin’ choppin’ mentality. [It still isn’t, one might argue, when considering the recent Obama administration’s upholding the Bush cancellation of sections of the Endangered Species Act: which has resulted in wholesale wolf-massacre in the US States of Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Alaska].

Muir had similar adversaries. A naturalist and explorer of nature, his favorite wildernesses were in northern California, and it is there that his perseverance eventually paid off.

His activism was instrumental in saving swathes of western wilderness which eventually became the National Parks of Yellowstone, Yosemite Valley and Sequoia NP. The Sierra Club, which he founded in 1892, is now the most important (and vociferous) conservation organization in the United States.

His essays, letters and books have been read by millions.

At first, however, his petitions to conserve large areas of natural beauty were ignored. In the USA, it was a time of railroad expansion, the explosion of large cities, and big business in politics and in agriculture.

In his opinion, the high Sierras and other wild mountainscapes were being ravaged by livestock grazing (especially sheep, which he termed ‘hoofed locusts’). He personally spent weeks, sometimes months, in this high country, documenting and writing about the need to allow areas of such magnificence protection from grazing and (by analogy, its later counterpart,) the human and vehicular footprint.

He was persistent and he was inspired. The wild nature of California captivated him, from his first moment of exposure to its awesome grandeur.

Yosemite by Ansel Adams

“We are in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us” John Muir

He had, after all, grown up in rural (but ‘tamed’) Scotland, where the wildcat was close to extinction, where wild boar no longer existed outside zoos, and where in his grandfather’s time a royal patron, King George I (‘Big Geordie’), had commissioned a granite bridge over a tributary of the River Dee at Invercauld, so he could be wheeled from Ballater to the hide to shoot; and where, incidentally, he is credited with killing Scotland’s last wolf in 1722.

Muir saw huge vistas of the Cairngorms, Deeside, Donside and the Ladder Hills have their natural tree populations annihilated by sheep, deer and rabbit. He dreamed of a world that might be otherwise.

Grandeur of Yosemite inspired Muir's lifelong work for wilderness

Muir arrived in San Francisco in 1868, and immediately set out to spend a solitary week in Yosemite. He later built a cabin there, where he lived for three years. For months at a time he would wander alone in the wilderness, making notes, carrying ‘only a tin cup, a handful of tea, a loaf of bread, and a copy of Emerson.’ It is here that he and his correspondent-in-Nature Ralph Waldo Emerson eventually met in 1871; Emerson traveling from Harvard to meet the man who lived the life he merely wrote about. His visit lasted only one day, but he promised assistance, and offered Muir a teaching position at the prestigious university, which Muir declined. ‘My work is here’, he said.

In 1872, the first National Park was created by federal legislation, on the strength of Muir’s efforts, at Yellowstone, Wyoming. It was to be the precursor of many others in the continental United States, including a total of nine national parks, now administered within the State of California by the National Parks service.

After his meeting with Emerson and over the following twenty years, Muir gathered, collated and compiled volumes of data on geology, natural history and plant and animal life populations of the Sierras. He envisioned Yosemite and the Sierra mountain range as pristine lands where original wildlife might roam, breed and proliferate, unimpeded by artificial (human) regulation. It was a difficult concept to instill. And his vision suffered throughout his life, wherever conflict surfaced between wilderness and ‘business.’

In one respect he was visionary, in doggedly hounding US Congress, and in writing for pro-conservationist magazines and organizations.

‘“Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts, and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.”


In 1873 and 1874, he made field studies along the western flank of the Sierra Nevada, on the distribution and ecology of isolated groves of Giant Sequoia, one of the few redwood groves left in the world in virgin stands. In 1876, the American Association for the Advancement of Science published Muir’s paper on the subject. In his personal essays, however, he valued nature for its spiritual and transcendental qualities.

Mount Whitney, at 14,500ft, the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail

His work inspired countless Americans, whose culture at the time was focused on the growing phenomenon of sky-scraper building and nationwide travel. He got them out of cities and back to nature. His work inspired photographers like Ansel Adams, painters such as Bierstadt, Jorgensen and Virgil Williams and he might even be seen as the father of the naturalist movement ‘EarthFirst‘. In the words of his biographer Steven Holmes:

“Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world.”

John Muir in 1907 - wildman to the end

In 1903, after an inspirational (but chilly) night in a tent at Glacier Point with President Teddy Roosevelt, whom Muir was invited to take ‘to the wilderness’, the President rearranged bureaucratic legislation, and consolidated the boundaries of Yosemite, which had been split and decimated for earlier conflicting ‘business interests.’

Many wilderness areas are named after him: from Muir Woods and Muir Beach in Marin County, north of San Francisco, to the 211-mile John Muir Trail, which runs from Yosemite through King’s Canyon NP and Sequoia National Park, to the 14,500-ft peak of Mount Whitney in central California. A glacier in Alaska bears his name. He was instrumental not only in establishing the structure which became National Parks, but in the resulting expansion of National Forests, including areas with protected ‘Reserve’ status. In addition, State Parks now proliferate throughout the US. California, alone, has twelve regions of state parks (CSPs) administering 278 parks on 1.4 million protected acres.

So, what has happened in the bigger picture?

John Muir would be delighted to know that in 1964, the US government passed the Wilderness Act, to protect around nine million acres of wilderness. Arbor Day was traditionally a celebration conceived in the midwestern state of Nebraska (a treeless zone), as a springtime event to encourage the young to plant a tree. And two Earth Days appeared on the American calendar–one ratified by the United Nations and celebrated on equinox, March 21st–when both hemispheres receive equal amounts of light and dark and when the sun appears to stand directly overhead on the equator; the other, April 22nd, has gradually superseded Arbor Day; their celebrations now interchangeable.

Recently, with the advent of the blog, acceleration of internet communication and a focus on Earth-related activities, New Earth consciousness, Earth Day has expanded into ‘Earth Week‘. That, too, would please Muir.

But what of his homeland? the sheep-munched treeless wilderness of northern Scotland?

Cairngorm National Park

Cairngorms National Park was established in 2003, the largest of 12 national parks in Britain at 1400 square miles, literally 10% of the landmass of Scotland. Stretching from Grantown-on-Spey (north) to Glen Clova in Angus (south) and from Ballater on Deeside in Aberdeenshire (east) to Laggan and Dalwhinnie (Aviemore) on the A9 (west). Its supporters describe great vistas, mountainous peaks (all less than 4000ft) and the Tourist Board of Scotland heralds it a shelter for a quarter of Scotland’s threatened species, and home to 25% of its native trees.

That in itself is disturbing.

Its ‘Angus glens’ the ‘haunt of red deer and golden eagle’; ‘heather moor vivid with summer color’, and ‘wild tundra of high mountain tops’ tell the story.

Every last vestige of hunting forest put to the torch by Robert Bruce, 1308

Brief historical recap: in the early 14th century, Robert the Bruce murdered his (Comyn) rival for the throne of Scotland and pursued his son through the hunting forests of Aberdeenshire until he cornered him in his coastal Buchan fortress and – having proclaimed himself monarch – confiscated what was left of Comyn lands. On the ‘royal’ progress north, every last indigenous native Caledonian pine was either burned to the ground or used as live torches to light the way of the conquering army. This deliberate extinction of the species–and the wildlife it harbored–was Bruce’s way of destroying the Comyn hunting forests, themselves a symbol of wealth and source of self-regenerating food and fuel supply. His act (colloquially called the ‘Herschip o’ Buchan’, harrying of Comyn lands in Buchan) totally changed the face of Aberdeenshire, from which it has never recovered.

What Robert Bruce’s actions created – a treeless raised beach from the Grampian mountains to the sea – was not replanted. Except for small pockets on landed estates where tree regeneration was encouraged, an agricultural zeal took over the desolate wasteland, capitalizing on open countryside with few obstructions.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Highland estates cleared out their resident employees–crofters–to make way for agricultural innovation: turnips and sheep. While these ‘clearances’ were more specific to Caithness, Sutherland and the western portions of Scotland, some effects were felt in what is now the Cairngorms National Park. Where sheep were introduced, trees died; were not replanted; not allowed to regenerate. Where deer population had been nurtured and maintained in small numbers in remnant natural forests, for hunting, with the exit of human monitors, they overpopulated and devastated their own environment.

Thus, the Tourist Board’s ‘heather moor with vivid summer color’ and ‘wild tundra’.

Tree planting has begun again in the agricultural hinterland

The tourist brochure’s proclaiming its 1400 sq.miles as “harboring one quarter of the nation’s native trees” is also misleading. One tenth of the landmass containing one quarter of the nation’s pine, birch, aspen and alder? sounds a little drastic. Especially if compared with John Muir’s Yellowstone. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, or 3.5 thousand square miles, has more trees per acre than all of Scotland put together. It is true that Aberdeenshire, a region half the size of Switzerland, still has fewer indigenous trees than it should–for its kindly climate–support. But that number is growing: private plantations are beginning to take hold again.

The good news is the story of Glen Affric: and Trees for Life. This Scots charity has gradually (through donation) been purchasing 600 square miles of ancient Caledonian remnant forest west of Inverness, and has begun the mammoth task of replanting original species of oak, alder, Caledonian pine, juniper, birch and rowan (mountain ash).

Regeneraton of Caledonian pine -- a rewarding task

While their goal is not to service the forestry industry, but rather to provide habitat for original animal, insect and plant subspecies, (with the possible future reintroduction of wild boar and wolf being tentatively suggested), the group recognize that some felling and forestry operations may be appropriate.

‘We envision our work to restore the Caledonian Forest as not only helping to bring the land here back to a state of health and balance, but also having global relevance, as a model for similar projects in other countries.’

Other small parcels–once adjacent to hillfarms, and escaping the ‘set-aside’ agricultural brainstorms of the 1980s–were maintained by individuals, and planted with pines, which are now starting to look mature.

John Muir would indeed be proud of his ancient heritage and the inspiration it has given new groups to start again.

Old growth 1000-year old redwoods felled in early 19thC lumber operations

The best news, however, is back in California.

In Muir’s time, after the (1848) Gold Rush, California was inundated with new immigrants. His beloved trees came under great threat. In the 1880s four hundred sawmills north of San Francisco were churning out lumber from felled redwood giants–a process which accelerated after the 1906 earthquake–in a need for timber to rebuild the city. In 1920, however, the Save the Redwoods League began purchasing groves that would become the backbone of California’s redwoods parks. It continues adding to this day.

In the 1950s–the post-war boom–lumber mills were cutting in excess of one billion board-feet of timber per year, a level maintained until the mid-1970s, when clear-felling vast acreage of virgin trees was still allowed.

…Until science and sense stepped in.

Science argued, but the battle was won by 1990s tree-sitters, those brave souls who camped out in makeshift treetop platforms while Caterpillars, chainsaws and chokesetters bumped and strained and devastated beneath them.

To explain:

Old growth virgin redwoods now protected in State and National Parks

In 1905, the Murphy family started Pacific Lumber, believing that by leaving some of their old growth redwoods standing, they could sustain an industry, well into the 21st century. But Pacific Lumber was purchased (by hostile takeover) in 1985, by Houston-based Maxxam, and clear-felling became the norm. Like the Amazon rainforest, Maxxam were clear-cutting eighty acres of California redwoods at a time–eating into the company’s (and the State’s) last remaining virgin stands. When CEO Charles Hurwitz attempted to clear-cut the largest remaining block of old growth redwood, in Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County, in 1990, tree-sitters — ‘Forest Defenders’ — scaled remaining giants the size of a Boeing 707, and moved in.

They were supplied food and refreshment by allies via pulleys, by night, their hoists and ropes removed and burned by loggers, by day. Tempers ran high; lives were lost; protesters murdered. But State legislature listened and stepped in.

Headwaters Forest was purchased in 1999 by State and Federal government agencies, and put under permanent protection. Clear-felling practice was legally reduced to a 20-40-acre maximum.

The logging industry finally sat up and paid attention. Its own resource was decimated; salmon runs and ecosystems had suffered in a mindless race for economic gain, with only ‘table scraps’ left, in the view of Humboldt State University forest scientist Steve Sillett. ‘The challenge now is to improve management on the 95% of redwood landscape (felled) that is just starting into regrowth.’

Sequoia sempervirens, redwoods as big as a Boeing 707

Growing trees like a crop of grain is no longer the enlightened view. Scientists from HSU have discovered that the older the redwood, the harder and more disease-resistant is the wood, and the tougher its ability to withstand weathering, damage; i.e. you get more value out of one 1000-year old tree than a thousand 10-year olds. Forestry attitudes are changing too. Heavy Caterpillar earthmoving tractors, that caused such erosion (skid trails) and consequent pollution to streams and spawning pools, are being replaced by smaller, lighter shovel loaders on tracks which leave the forest floor intact. State law now enforces a mandatory buffer zone of trees, along streams and rivers, and salmon and other fish are returning.

They are on target to create new forests (in one hundred years) like the ones protected in the Redwoods National and State Parks. Muir is by now roaring with delighted laughter in his (redwood) coffin.

So, when they ask you ‘what did you do for Arbor Day, Mummy or in Earth Week, Daddy?’ it may no longer be adequate to say you took the dog for a walk or raked leaves off the driveway. With renewed focus on the Earth, a show of determination coming from youth groups and in education, we may be inspired to show our ability to replenish, regenerate and restore parts of our planet we’ve been gifted as custodians, to bring back to life.

During Earth Week at least, the gardener in us is being asked to wake up.
©2010-2012 Marian Youngblood

April 23, 2010 Posted by | authors, calendar customs, culture, environment, gardening, history, nature, New Earth, organic husbandry, seasonal, sun, trees | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Nirvana & Light withdrawal: chop wood and carry water

Sunset time in Lerwick is 3p.m.

Two days to go until the sun stands still for 24 hours! That’s how it looks in the northern hemisphere, in places like Lerwick in the Shetlands; Trondheim in Norway, Reykyavik in Iceland and Juneau, Alaska. Then as if on cue or by some cosmic wind-up mechanism, the solar orb starts rolliing again, adding another four minutes of light to each day once more. It allows us hibernators to come out of our winter caves and surface to the sun. If, like me, you live anywhere above Scotland’s ‘Central Belt’, I can assure you the return of the light is such a welcome curve.

There used to be legal ‘lighting-up times’ in Britain: this wasn’t a comical reminder to smoke a cigar or kindle the wood burning stove; it was a law that drivers should switch on headlights 30 minutes after sunset and off 30 minutes before dawn. These laws no longer exist. Legally drivers must simply switch lights on in vehicles whenever visibility is reduced.

snow in time for solstice

i rather miss the old ‘lighting-up times’. It was a way of keeping us in alignment with the hours of the day, with sun times: it helped us tune into the ‘real world’; you know that one out there that’s chucking down snow at us right now and freezing the pipes and causing animals in fields to die if they don’t have shelter; not really that a motorist these days has much time for such banalities. If you are driving in Sheffield or Sacramento, night time looks the same as day because all the lights are on anyway.

Just in case no one believes me, here are some sunrise and sunset times for Britain at the moment: if you live in Bournemouth, or the Isles of Scilly, the sun goes down at 4pm: you are blessed to be able to have a whole hour more light than someone living for example on Unst, the most northerly of the British Isles. Sunset there is 3pm. You get it at the other end of the day, too. You have the blessing of daylight as you drive to work in, say, Dover because the sun comes up at 8am. Pity the ferryboat captain in Wick harbor who doesn’t see the sunrise until 10 minutes to 9am and has to have his lights switched on again at 3pm for sunset.

Sunset at Wick happens at three o'clock

I started writing this at sunset: on the Moray Firth that’s 3:14pm and the day has ended. Night time activities begin. Living in the country, if you haven’t got all your animals inside, fed and watered, you’re going to have to do it in the dark. This was a way of life for thousands, perhaps millions, in days of yore, but few give it a thought these days. I won’t see sunlight again for another seventeen and one-half hours. That’s a remarkable amount of night time, if you really think about it.

There are compensations. Aurora Borealis, for one. Displays at these latitudes can last for hours. And, of course at the height of summer this far north, there is the most awesome array of light showered from above in a day which lasts equally as long as this winter night. Seventeen hours of light in summer; seventeen hours of dark in winter. No wonder they say the Norwegians, Icelandic poets and Scots bards have a poignancy in their work like no other, except perhaps the Russians.

Aurora can last for hours

Nevertheless, because of the snowstorm, this writer is focused more at the moment on keeping body and soul together and that means the old Nirvana adage: ‘before and after achieving Nirvana, chop wood and carry water’.

And while that is a really poor excuse for an introduction to another poem about trees, wood, and burning logs; it’s all I’ve got right now. Days are short; birds and animals bring other demands. Night is a hard taskmistress.

I gave the wonderful wood-burning rhyme in a previous blog ‘for a Queen to warm her slippers by’. This one has slightly different meter, but it includes a more diverse array of woods.

I am particularly fond of the admonition toward the end. The writer (our perennial friend Anon) is quite clearly a supporter of the ancient Caledonian Pine, Pinus sylvestris now in short supply, although being gradually re-introduced and replanted privately.

For a country (Caledonia) which the Romans described as ‘thriving in Pine’, because the origial Caledonian Pine Forest stretched from coast to coast, we have been remarkably careless with this beautiful native tree.

Robert I Bruce, of course, was the main culprit: he burned his way from Kelso to the Comyn stronghold of the Earl of Buchan near Fraserburgh in 1308. This ‘herschip’ or harrying of Buchan was a treatment from which the country never recovered.

It is encouraging to note that the charity Trees for Life is replanting this and other native trees in considerable numbers in a northerly enclave of the original Caledonian Forest.

That little divertissement was a mere sidestep for tree-lovers. For wood-burners, here is the rhyme by our friend Anonymous.

Enjoy.

Logs to Burn

Logs to burn, logs to burn
Logs to save the coal a turn;

Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodman’s cries
Never heed his usual tale
That he’s splendid logs for sale

Scots pine, the 'Scotch log' of the rhyme

But read these lines and really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell
But the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas time
Yew logs heat well
‘Scotch’ logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.

Ash worth their weight in gold

Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all.
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax
You should burn them green.
Elm logs like smouldering flax
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.
But ash logs all smooth and grey
Burn them green or old
Because of all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in gold. Anonymous

December 19, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, consciousness, culture, environment, nature, popular, seasonal, sun, trees, weather, winter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment