Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Editing one’s Way through Writer’s Block

Monthly IWSG

Self-explanatory; though some friends say there should be a time segment for beating-head-against-wall...

Believe me, I really didn’t think I’d get hit by the dreaded Block –the writer’s nightmare par excellence— only a few months into our fun bloghopping fiesta with Alex in his Insecure Writers’ Support Group. Part of the IWSG guidelines are, after all, that we can share our insecurites, without feeling vulnerable, but if we’re feeling strong (sometimes we are), we writers who ‘have been through the fire’ (Alex’s words) should encourage others who might be struggling, by sharing the lessons we’ve learned.

“When I write I feel like an armless, legless man, with a crayon in my mouth” Kurt Vonnegut

This month the only lesson I’ve learned–blah–is that the Block waits for no man-woman-child; it can pounce at any time and, unless we can lay culpability at the door of the Muse–for her being in absentia–there’s no-one else to blame, but ourselves.

Alex and his equally illustrious-and-prolific blogging buddy, Arlee Bird, don’t hang around. They both blog and read/comment on others’ blogs daily and, instead of allowing the ‘block’ to take me over, I should probably have signed up for Lee’s amazing April A-to-Z challenge. It is, after all, one of the best ways to ease oneself out of that frozen-can’t-cope stance, because the challenge makes you write EVERY day during April: self-evidently alphabetically sequential. I recommend it to those bloggers/beginners who have the gift of writing something interesting/meaningful every day in life. [I do write every day in life–I have always kept a journal, still do–but what’s going through my head at the moment is far from meaningful]. And, for those just getting into the blogging craze, it’s a great way to start; to follow and comment on other blogs; and to emulate other bloggers. If you check out the link, you’ll find their following is massive, and if you want to make new writing friends, both AtoZ and IWSG are the way to go.

There’s an added incentive to put–just a few–words on the screen every day, because, as we all know, words on the screen are basically what this (unblocked) writing’s all about.

All writers need encouragement, because what we have in common is our (strange) lack of self-confidence. It must come from all those years of being holed up alone, writing our magnum opus. So when the day dawns for the book launch, we seem to be surprised that we pulled it off. [I am being positive, here, you’ll notice].

But I didn’t sign up, because I’m–er–editing. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Nevertheless, my editing is coming along fine. I have just tightened up (again) chapter twenty-nine; only another sixty more chapters to go…

Feeling discarded, Muses waiting in the wings, until the left hemisphere departs

What it comes down to is this: while I may LOVE the sensation of being enfolded by my Muse (when I’m in the “zone”, right hemisphere), the editor in me (left hemisphere person) that insists on inserting commas, semi-colons and em-dashes in the correct places, has a valid role to play, too. I imagine countless Muses waiting in the wings, feeling redundant and discarded, while their left hemisphere counterparts tackle the job.

I admit to struggling with the switch-over. I tried, in one earlier blog, to summarize how it feels to have plot bunnies interrupt the editing process: almost as irritating as having them try to direct the creative flow, when the Muse is in residence.

I shall have to take my own advice and try to be a little more patient with myself. The best and worst of writers have good and bad days. Philosophically, we wouldn’t appreciate the one, without the misery of the other. And it is never productive to rail against the status quo. We all know in our hearts that it is the very contrast of what currently ‘is’ that, with a few gentle strokes, helps us change it to what we hope ‘will be’. And it’s never a good idea to beat the horse we’re mounted on, and even less clever to heap criticism on the rider. If we give ourselves a hard time about it, it will take even longer to resolve..


When it comes to edits, don't rely on your Muse to help, because she'll send a minion

So, I’d better get back to that edit: my inner taskmistress is a bully. But she won’t mind if I pause for a moment to add five pieces of advice which the great C.S. Lewis gave to a young writer: they are, after all, rather more editorially- than Muse-inspired words; so, when you wake up one of these mornings in bed with Rite R. Block yourself, you may find them worth re-reading.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
C.S.Lewis

And thanks, Alex, Lee and my other talented writerly friends (you know who you are) for letting me sound off today.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

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April 4, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, novel, popular, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Writer’s Muse and Humanity’s Oversoul

Om, Omega, Oversoul

VERSOUL: that Unity within which every man’s Being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday was Emerson’s birthday. He and his fellows would have celebrated in style. He and his contemporaries, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and others of the American Transcendentalist movement, believed in

The writer (in his ‘right state’) as an expression of Man Thinking; in degenerative state as a parrot of other men’s thinking“.

“It is the essence of poetry to spring, like the Rainbow Daughter of Wonder, from the invisible, to abolish the past, and refuse all history” Emerson, Representative Man

A clergyman, but one whose words are sometimes more Gautama than Goethe, Emerson, 1803-1882, had great fondness for the Oversoul, whom he called the Rainbow Daughter of Wonder.

He was first to concede, however, that she is fickle.

Rainbow Daughter of Wonder
Writers have it hard — they have to maintain focus. Whatever is going on in their own private, particular world, they have a daily obligation, an assignation, to tune in and connect with their Muse.

I speak with especial deference to those writers who blog frequently and find consistently interesting subjects to blog about, without losing touch with their own reality. I am in awe, for instance, of the blogger-author-writer capabilities of The Burrow consortium, who blog far more prodigiously than I and have a composite following of thousands. Their 2011 June writing contest, BuNoWriMo –filled with supportive banter and genuine writerly urgings– is imminent (June 1st). I have featured some of their writerly profiles here in the past — and shall again.

For now, let’s take a look at the science behind the Spirit/Muse: They say that as a writer, all you need is a rhythm –the habit– of making time every day to sit down and write. That the Muse, hovering entity that she is, knowing that you are down there, sitting –plodding sometimes; at others racing ahead with ideas pouring from your fingertips– will take pity and come down and join you.

And then there is the growling anti-Muse: the Musebloc, the Great Doubt. But we won’t go there. I have spent the last month in the arms of Rite R. Bloch. He’s not my favorite companion. I am the first to revel in the relief at the end of the tunnel where light as a chink is merely spied — because at least you know the great black hole of negativity does indeed have an event horizon, a finite edge. The cloud of uncertainty and hesitation is passing. Will soon pass. One can hold one’s head up again.

BuNoWriMo, design by Joris Amerlaan

In the case of BuNoWriMo, I am certain their joint Muse — their Oversoul — is watching and will oversee a hugely productive month (followable on BuNoWriMo”>Facebook) from their respective pens/keyboards. We shall await amazing results.

They say the Oversoul/Muse is energized by positive encouragement. Just like the individual who uses positive affirmation to get out of bed each day, spurring her/himself with thoughts of creating something new, building a world never before imagined; the Oversoul is there –omnipresent– waiting for a chance to pop into our conscious mind and guide us to a more-inspired place.

In Emerson’s sense, then, I may be blogging as the parrot, but I do it with the sincere intent to clear a way for the intellect of one of humanity’s great Men Thinking to come through.

Terence McKenna was a Muse unto himself. Permanently connected to the Oversoul through a lifetime habit of listening to the Voice Within, he had a phenomenal hold on Humanity’s future — and its past. He foresaw the times we live in now –the speeding up of time and all experience; the overwhelming of numbers; the love-hate relationship between science and spirituality; disconnection between Individual and State.

He had himself experienced firsthand the fantasy worlds which the human mind is capable of entering, manipulating, accepting, and reinventing. He had little faith in the machinations of ‘mindless’ men, but he had ultimate belief in the presence of an Entity, an Overbeing/Overmind — his ‘Novelty’ — known to Emerson, Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley and Sri Aurobindo as the Oversoul; and to Carl Jung as the Universal Unconscious.

To McKenna it was both Oversoul and Eschaton: it is the Intelligent Design of the Universal Mind.

In his view it has tricks up its sleeve.

McKenna died in 2000, as world population reached the six billion mark. A year before he went to the Great Amusement in the Sky, the ‘altered statesman’ revealed a semi self-deprecating tale of his version of humanity’s love affair with the UFO phenomenon.

Oversoul as Saucer
“There is building in global society an increasingly intense expectation of the intervention into human history by UFOs: that is very similar in tone to the buildup of expectation in the Hellenistic world in the century before the birth of Christ. The leaders of Roman society might have been caught off-guard by the appearance of Christ, but they had no-one to blame but themselves, as millions of people in the ancient world were expectantly awaiting the appearance of some kind of Messiah.

“So today, science and government poo-poo the idea of world contact with UFOs, but the contact cults grow ever larger and more insistent that contact is about to occur.

“Imagine, therefore, what you may never have seriously imagined before: imagine what would happen if UFOs were to appear. Imagine a spaceship of the Close-Encounters-of-the-Third-Kind variety suddenly appearing in orbit around the earth.

“Television and mass media would carry this image to every man, woman and child on the planet. Governments would be paralyzed, science would be helpless to explain where it came from or how it got here.

“Millennarian hysteria would break out everywhere.

“The UFO would be hailed as savior, and denounced as anti-Christ.
The end of the world would appear imminent. And all this would occur before the contact of more than a visual image.

Saucer cult: 'Science would be helpless to explain where it came from or how it got here'

“Then the UFO would begin its revelation: vast displays of benificent power can be expected; perhaps it would mysteriously neutralize all weapons of mass destruction or it might use some sort of ray to cure all terrestrial cancer. Whatever it does, one may be sure that its actions will be impressive: its actions will convert millions to the UFO religion in a space of hours. Indeed, its actions would be specifically designed to overwhelm us with the reality of its power and presence. That will close the first phase of the revelation.

“The second stage would be the ‘teaching’. Telepathically imparted, the specifics of the teaching cannot be anticipated, but they will urge love, voluntary simplicity, concern for one another, renunciation of war, perhaps the renunciation of the destructive application of science. Whatever the teaching, the UFO will promise immense rewards for those who follow them and dire consequences for those who do not. The teaching will be delivered in so poetically-perfect a way, so rich in understanding, and appealing nuances, that no-one will doubt their origin in a being so wise and good –and immensely superior to ourselves.

“The delivery of the teachings will set the stage for the third and last –and most shocking– phase of the revelation: the departure.

“The saucers, promising vaguely to return, will simply disappear.

“The entire process could take less than a month. If this seems a short time, recall that the entire public career of Christ lasted only three years. Christ’s career occurred in a world where information could move no faster than a horse’s gallop. Yet three years in one small part of the world was all that was necessary to launch a world religion that remained vital for 1500 years.

“In a world of electronic communication the impact of the Saucer’s arrival, miracles, teaching and departure would be incalculable, even if it all occurred within a month. The Saucer would leave in its wake a science utterly unable to provide any answers to the important questions the event had brought on. The vast majority of people would be fanatical converts to the teachings of the Saucers and any institution in opposition to those teachings could expect to be swept away almost overnight.

“The departure of the UFO would create a sense of abandonment, the agony of which would be expected to echo in the human psyche for centuries.

“The only panacea would be the religion of the Saucer, the religion left behind. Science would be discredited and soon abandoned in favor of a thousand or more years of exegesis of the Saucerian message.

“Is this not a familiar pattern we see in our lives with events happening right now?”

“What will never be said in the wake of such an event, and so must be said now –while there is still time for all of the above to occur and yet still be deception — of a non-deception designed to save us from our advanced science and infantile efforts, but a deception nevertheless:–

“The Saucer –no matter how alien the theory, no matter how advanced its demonstrations of power– is not a vehicle from some other star system.

‘It is the Oversoul Of Humanity– up to its oldest tricks.’

“If one knows this, one can live through the revelation and the destruction of our scientific world, and thus evade the immense power of this most powerful of all transparent phenomena, and thereby maintain integrity of one’s own soul and spirit.

“Remember, I am not a debunker of flying saucers or a defender of science. I am a contactee and this is the painstakingly-told story of my own involvement with the UFOs. I am one of those pinpointed as being a carrier of ideas that paved the way for the scenario I have just described.”*
Terence McKenna

“Yet, from it all I have learned that there is no religious revelation more satisfying than the hard-won food of simple understanding.

“And there is no liberation to compare with seeing oneself as the illusions and delusions of the Age in which one lives.

*”I reached these conclusions in my encounters with psylocybin and psychedelic plants. They immerse their users in the world of the Oversoul and make one privileged to have reached at least a part of the tectonics of operation.” TM

“They allow a private dialogue with the Oversoul that is outside the context of the struggle between science and revelation –that leaves no choice between the alienation of the rationalist and the pious formulae of the fanatical believers. These mind-expanding substances hold out the possibility of healing the breach between science and morality at the level of the individual, thus freeing one to evolve, independent of the chaos and transformation the UFOs may seem to bring to humanity.” ©TMcKenna

“[UFOs are], in other words, something which in order not to alarm us has disguised itself as an extraterrestrial being, but is in fact the collectivity of the human psyche signaling a profound historical crisis.” ©TMcK

If you thought that was a tale worth telling, McKenna is capable of much, much more. Along the way, you may have watched part one (above) of his great vision from the Oversoul: Storytime story of how we evolved through science. It is a tale of parallel universes. Here is part two.

The Crop Circle Connection

May 4th 2011 crop circle at Barat Cikarang, Java, photo courtesy Nur Agustinus

Contemporary news reportage worldwide includes UFO sightings over metropolitan areas; with video footage and recordings corroborating each other. Recent disclosure announcements by US government sources relate to alien craft, formerly denied. Indonesian news services speak openly about current and earlier (January 2011) crop circle appearances in ricefields in that country as UFO-related phenomena. This was most recently reinforced when aerial footage of the May 2011 crop design in Cikarang was taken from a small craft whose instruments suddenly failed in the electromagnetic surge over the formation and it crashed.

While this blog was being written, Peruvian television showed footage of a ‘breaking news’ craft in their airspace.

The Sanctuary, Avebury crop image late May in early barley, photo Stuart Dike

Through it all, and curiously, the British crop circle season has been slow to start, its symbols sporadic in appearance and design and leaving the conviction of its followers seriously dented. Some have even suggested the Indonesian designs are more advanced than the British 2011 season, so far.

Perhaps our communal doubt is being reflected in McKenna’s trickster Oversoul. As he would say, we shall have to wait and see.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Ascension, authors, belief, consciousness, Muse, New Age, New Earth, spiritual, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Energy, Intent and Writing by Jim Vires

Featured Writers Corner

The allure and magic of the printed page

When I first got the idea to feature some of my struggling author friends, it was a seed kernel: a tiny cell in need of germination: I have quite a few writerly friends in various guises, on a couple of continents, some friendships generated through the miracle of electrons… all extremely busy at what they do. The writerly occupation, after all, as we’ve said before, is not something you can pick up and put down. It lives inside. It has its own form of development, its own pace, its own drive. We, the hands on the keyboard, the implement allowing it voice, are merely facilitators.

So, when some of my author friends agreed to write a guestblog for me, I was over the moon. Every writer sees the Muse differently. Every one of them has a unique perspective on our communal pursuit.*

All of them are busy, as I say: as a writer, storyteller, blogger, novelist or journalist, you have to keep at it or you’re doomed. So it was not a surprise when some of my friends said they’d do it, but it would be a while.

Jim Vires, my column guest today, said: ‘when do you want it?’

Jim is just as busy, just as motivated, just as obsessed as the rest of us.

Evolution of a Conceptual God by Jim Vires on Amazon

He has just launched his phenomenal ‘The Evolution of A Conceptual God’ on Amazon – subtitled: ‘Navigating the Landmines’. It is a collection of powerful stories, both fiction and non-fiction in a life curve designed by the author to overcome adversity and his gratitude in being able to do so. Jim arranged for all profits from the sale of his book to go to Salvation Army Homeless Shelters.

He’s moderator/group leader Yinseriv of the NonFiction writers group on KPN Network (run by KeyPublications guru Damian Gray); he’s a video wiz, photographer and music buff; and he writes — and helps others to write — in his so-called ‘spare’ time. He also dashes about the country helping others get their books launched, but we won’t go into that this time around… in short, he’s an inspirer, as well as being inspired.

I am therefore honored — and delighted with his speedy response — to be able to present the spiritual view of storyteller, ‘teller-of-tales’ Jim Vires on writing as a medium to inspire others.

Energy, Intent and Writing by Jim Vires

Often I hear from other writers that they have succumbed to Writers’ Block. To be truthful, these words have passed my own lips. I suffer from this self-imposed malady when I think of writing as a craft, or as my job. For me, there is a cure for the condition, but I never learned of it in any college classroom. The glossy paperbacks touted as ‘How To’ by bestselling authors fail to mention it either. I remind myself that writing came to humankind as a gift.

Before I continue, allow me to address any readers who may bring up that language preceded writing as a gift to humankind. As a member of a tribe with a long history of storytelling, I do agree that language is a gift. I also see the gift of language shared by other dwellers of our planet. To the best of my knowledge, so far, only humans have mastered writing with purpose.

‘Purpose’ is the key word I want to focus on about writing. Often as writers, we start with a set purpose in mind as we put words to page. Our cerebral cortex starts firing as we set our awareness to a task. When all works well, we find that we enter an altered state of awareness as we write. The distractions of outside influence fade as we focus on the words imparted from our brain to the world. You may call this altered state by any number of titles depending on your frame of reference. In the end though, it becomes one writer acting with purpose, to place format to a thought using one letter at a time.

Are you aware of the purpose of your words? Many of us have used the written word to influence, or at times, manipulate the thoughts and emotions of others. When we do this well, we transpose our intent to the will of our readers. This is never ‘bad’. Without the phrasing of a thoughtful love letter, our reproductive prerogative never would have evolved from who is the best physical suitor. Wars have started and ended over the words written on a page. These are just three examples of the power behind the purpose of words.

What happens once the words leave my brain and enter the domain of the reader? All control of my purpose, intent and meaning default to the experience of the reader.

Shall we try an experiment?

Smile.

Jim Vires - perennial optimist, author of 'Evolution of a Conceptual God'

Five simple letters form one word. What did you think of as you read the word? Each of us filtered that one word through our experience. Did you smile at an innocuous request? Perhaps you came from a background where you learned that a smile is a mask. The word smile may signal a harbinger of deceit. The point I make is that as I typed the word there was one meaning in my mind. One purpose. Through the act of reading, we all share the word. It has become our word. This is the Spirituality flowing underneath writing. We connect in a shared experience.

As a writer, I am all too often forgetful of this on a conscious level. Until I enter an altered state while writing, I am imposing my will, purpose, on the reader. Once I do enter that state, words flow from my fingers in an attempt to connect with my projected reader. Instead of imposing, I strive to connect with you, the reader. You become the focus of my being. This is the joy of being out of myself and fully alive in this moment. This is the gift of writing.

Does this seem a little too ‘New Age’? Allow me to challenge this. What is the power of any classic literature? The writer has taken us outside of our existence and placed us within a frame of reference we may never have lived. The writer places words in a careful arrangement that allow us to travel inside of the written word and give life to the words. The words become living words. In a transcending of time and place, we enter into a contract of writer and reader. The writer wrote with purpose. At what point though, did the purpose leave the intent of the writer and become part of a greater purpose? This happens the moment there is a reader.

While in the process of writing, the writer owns the words, and it is the writer’s job to bring meaning to those words. A thoughtful writer always considers the intent of the words. The writer considers the thoughts and emotions that the reader will experience by the selection of the words.

This again brings me back to purpose when writing.

The written word can wound and it can heal. Rarely when writing are our words a null void. Why would we write if they were? Granted, most of us write without intent to hurt others. How often has your intent been to heal? I dare to guess that it is not often enough. When we use our words to educate, lift up, or bring a smile to our readers, we are engaged in healing work. As we enter an altered state while writing, we become funnels for the energy that surrounds us. The words become a balm freely given to the writer with the understanding that they are to share with readers. If we allow the process to shine through us, at the end of the job the words turn into a paper, story, poem, blog or a book. The writer gives up ownership of the words.

At this point, the reader now owns the words.

As stated earlier, we can never tell with certainty the perception that a reader is going to bring to the page. It is now on the reader to take the words to a new sphere of influence. The five minutes a reader spends reading on work break eases some of the tension and worries that are common to so many. The reader interacts with coworkers and family, now infused with the purpose, power, of the words he read. A classic energy string radiates within a community and quite possibly returns to the writer.

I wrote this blog with intent and purpose for you, the reader. As I distill final words to an ending, I understand that my part of this contract ends. Now the contract rests with you when you continue your life.

Smile.

It is a simple word, the word smile. Such a simple word holds so much transformative power.

© Jim Vires 2010

Ed. Thank you Jim for a sidestep into the cosmic realm of dreams, belief, heart and soul and for bringing us back to earth too: because this is where we all have our work cut out for us!

*My other writerly cohorts who have appeared or will appear again in this conspiracy to collude in the crystallization of seed-words on the printed page include:

Cathy Evans
Hart Johnson
Pete Madstone (May 2010)
Natasha Ramarathnam
Genie Rayner (October 2010)
Rob Read
Mehal Rockefeller (April 2010)
Catrien Ross of Energy Doorways
Tara Smith (September 2010)

And to Jim: bless you.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | authors, consciousness, culture, Muse, publishing, spiritual, Uncategorized, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Muckle Spate and Sunflower Update

still standing tall; supported by invisible puppet strings from the heavens

November sunflower: supported by invisible puppet strings from the heavens

In case no-one’s noticed: it’s November. Snow has fallen in Colorado, the Rockies, Kamchatka and Iceland. Frost came to Northeast Scotland, but it was puny compared with what descended last week AND last month AND September: we’re talking floods here. What they used to call – when country people were country folk – a Muckle Spate.

Now there have been spates and floods before. Weather in Scotland, or Ultima Thule, is and always has been the topic which gets most discussion year-round. It’s because of its location:

Americans in particular are amazed to learn that the Moray Firth in Scotland lies at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.

For the latitude of Ultima Thule, the farthest and northernmost point of habitable land, read nine degrees below the Arctic Circle, or what is euphemistically named the Northern Temperate Zone. So it’s not unreasonable to experience weather conditions which are enormously influenced by the Atlantic Ocean on one coast and the North Sea on the other.

Gulf Stream warm current annually maintains North Britain frost-free

The powerful warm Gulf Stream current maintains waters mild in Ultima Thule

At the northern end of the Atlantic, the Atlantic Conveyor kicks in, swimming through the Bristol Channel, up the Irish Sea, through the Minch and cresting at the entrance to the Pentland Firth. A small portion of this powerful warm current (more affectionately known as the Gulf Stream or North Atlantic Drift) noses its way along the Pentland Firth between Orkney and Mainland Scotland and curls back south to run inland along the Moray Firth, so-called Aberdeenshire’s North Coast. In historical summers, it has been known to create balmy climes for residents of these northern shores.

For those not aware of these obscure locations in an otherwise frozen belt of Icelandic waters, GoogleEarth will happily provide up-to-the-minute and up-to-the last aerially-photographed section of the Moray Firth, Orkney and Shetland Isles and Mainland Scotland.

Mouth of the Deveron and Duff House at Banff

The River Deveron near Duff House at Banff

Aerial photographers, however, have had a difficult time of it these last three months. Unless, that is, you were racking up overhead shots of flooded football pitches and river basins fulfilling their description as ‘flood-plains’. Some photographers have documented Council employees who have had to stop road-laying and sweeping to race to the aid of a vast area of housing and newbuild schemes on the ‘rescue’ list in need of sandbags, rehousing the homeless, or pumping out flooded basements and High Street shopfronts.

The fact that these new houses were built on ‘flood-plain’ in the first place is something this blogger prefers not to discuss at this point.

Abnormally high rainfall in September washed out roads in the Highlands and Scotland’s West Coast at Oban and Skye. Over a four-day period in October, rivers Don and Dee in Aberdeenshire overflowed and took out roads and bridges in Banchory, Kintore and Inverurie and claimed the life of a farmer. The Rivers Spey and the Lossie at Elgin on the Moray coast reached record high levels. The Deveron at Banff flooded golf courses, links, part of the Old Town and made the A98 coast road impassible.

one of Genl. Wade's bridges a little worse for wear

One of Gen. Wade's bridges a little worse for wear

Overnight on Hallowe’en and into the early hours of November 1st, the total expected rainfall for the month of November fell in six hours, and put Aberdeenshire Council into the red in its attempts to rescue and rehouse residents made homeless by rivers Carron and Cowie bursting their banks at Stonehaven and the rivers Bogie and Deveron flooding new houses at Huntly.

Aberdeenshire’s North Coast shares something in common with those river valleys in the glacial excavation grinding through the Mounth, the Cairngorms, and the Grampian and Ladder Hills. They have always had extremes of weather. Prophets of global warming suggested cooling temperatures for North Britain in 2005. Yet in the interim, except for the Wet Summer of 2009, Scotland has experienced record high temperatures. House building in floodplains has progressed apace. No wonder Mother Nature decided this year to rebel and balance the books.

She did something similar in the summer of 1829. It was the year of the Great Flood, or in the Northeast vernacular, The Muckle Spate o’ ’29.

If records are to be believed, three months’ worth of rain fell in one week in August of that year, inundating crops and farmland, transporting cattle, sheep, dogs and men from their homes downstream for miles. Bridges were heavy casualties. Even those robust granite bridges built by General George Wade (1673-1748) in 1724 to withstand the weight of his marching troops and to guide his mapmakers through the wilds of Scotland on their first attempt to document the country for King George I. But two centuries have elapsed since then and road- and bridge-building has advanced a pace. Or have they?

Turriff United football ground, Aberdeenshire

Turra United: the fitba' pitch at Turriff, Aberdeenshire

In November, 2009, the Dee washed out the road and bridge at Banchory. Banff causeway was underwater and the Don bridge at Inverurie had water level with the arches. The Old Dee Bridge at Aberdeen was closed, as were roads involving bridges supplying Oldmeldrum, Kintore, Dyce, Turriff, Huntly, Stonehaven, Glass, Keith, Aberchirder, Ellon, Deskford, Banff, MacDuff, Elgin, Findhorn, Forres and Alford.

For all our computer-generated map-making and architect-free design models of flood plains, physical geography and world climate patterns, one would think we had learned something. Last week’s freak storm suggests we haven’t.

I thought you’d like to read a brief excerpt from the vernacular poem ‘The Muckle Spate o’ ‘Twenty-nine’ by David Grant, published in 1915 by the Bon-Accord Press, Aberdeen. Its subject matter was focused on the River Dee at Strachan (pronounced Stra’an) – a mile of so from the base of the Mounth. If you need a translation, I might suggest you ask someone from the ‘old school’ and keep handy a copy of Aberdeen University Press‘s Concise Scots Dictionary. Enjoy.

sunflower and stone circle after the storm

Giant sunflower and stone circle after three storms

Oh, yes. My giant sunflower: she weathered all three storms. She flowered during October, turning daily towards the light until it no longer rose above the shelterbelt of trees. Then, holding her south-facing stance, she pulled her yellow petals inwards as if to cloak her next (a sunflower’s most important) operation: to set seed. She showed a little yellow up until yesterday, but her colour is now mostly gone. Unlike her two less-lofty companions, she has not gone mouldy; but I hesitate to describe the activity presently occurring in her centre as ‘seed-setting’.

It rained again today after three days of watery sun. I think she may still have time to stretch herself into the record books: as the latest-bloomer of all time to brave insane weather and still reach her goal: the Giant Sunflower of Ultima Thule. Spates be damned.

The Muckle Spate o’ ‘Twenty-Nine by David Grant

‘At Ennochie a cluckin’ hen wis sittin’ in a kist,
Baith it an’ her were sweelt awa’ afore the creatur’ wist;
We saw her passin’ near Heugh-head as canty as ye like,
Afore her ark a droonit stirk, ahint a droonit tyke,
An’ ran anent her doon the banks for half-a-mile or mair,
Observin’ that, at ilka jolt, she lookit unca scare,
As gin she said within hersel’ – ‘Faur ever am I gyaun?
I nivver saw the like o’ this in Birse nor yet in Stra’an.
Faur ever am I gyaun, bairns? Nae canny gait, I doot;
Gin I cud but get near the side, I think I wad flee oot.’
We left her near the Burn o’ Frusk, an’ speculatit lang
Gin she were carri’t to the sea afore her ark gaed wrang,
An’ may be spairt by Davie Jones to bring her cleckin’ oot,
Gin she wad rear them like a hen or like a water coot.’

November 10, 2009 Posted by | gardening, Muse, nature, stone circles, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments