Blossom Celebrations

Come with me under the blossom skirts of Spring, and lie on the soft damp earth with the sound of bees busy in your ears. Sun filtered through blossom flesh takes on luminous sparkles and dazzling glints which catch the corners of your eyes. The breeze fills with the swish and swirl of waves washing through a thousand petal underskirts. 

 Each soft sigh of Spring plucks a million petals of confetti, grown for just this moment. Clouds of flowers swirl and dance in the rivers of the breeze, delighting the eye and heart in momentary celebrations of springs abundance. Sunlight furled petals offer to lead us fresh into the flow of summers new wild abandon. Let your heart drink in this earthy joy, refreshed and replenished each morning in fresh dew.  


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Bluebells and Birches (Fairy Magic)


All across the lower slopes a soft spring breeze is playing silvery songs on the fresh green leaves of the silver birches. It’s notes fill the air, dazzling the ears with its shifting shingle waves, mingled with the scattered calls of cuckoos and excited sparrows. The woods have burst into life and Spring has spread a carpet of bluebells across the dark earthen floor. 

The deep vibrant blue of the bells shimmers in the sunlight, offering a stream of petals through the trees. Dancing delicately in the breeze they lure you onwards, ever deeper into the spring enchanted woods. The sweet soporific honey scent of the flowers invites you to rest and linger a while among these fairy flowers. But if you stray too far from the path into a bluebell ring you are bound to fall asleep for 100 years, stolen away to fairyland to dance and sing till your shoes wear out. You have been warned, but the lure of these blue beauties is strong, and the songs of Spring tinkle like fairybells confusing and entrancing the senses here among the silver birch. 

 If we lie down for just a little while, the sweet scent of the bells and the silvery songs of the birch will soothe our busy minds, opening our hearts and breath out into the abundant beauty of Spring on earth. The sunlight glints lime green through the sparse newly burst canopy of leaves and the whole of the kingdom of the birds has flown here to entertain us as we rest among the busy drone of the bees. The song of Spring has sprung across these low slopes of the Scottish Highlands and a smile slides slow and unbidden across our lips, we’ve been enchanted for sure. Lost to fairyland among the bluebell rings.  

 But wait, we’re saved by our faithful hound, who pulls us back into this time and space. Her wet nose a gentle reminder that tea time fast approaches and all the supplies are back at the house. Time to head back out of the magical birch woods and the bluebells and into normal life again.

True British Bluebells are a protected species and it’s illegal to gather any parts of the plants, but in the past the sticky sap of the stems was used to fletch arrows, to bind books and even to starch the stiff frilly Elizabethen collars of old.

The British variety with its vivid deep blue, it’s wonderful honey scent and its narrow curled flowers is under threat from the non-native Spanish Bluebells, which people often plant in their gardens. These hybridise with the native species and threaten its survival. Choose the native stock if you plant to plant bluebells, and you might even get some fairies into the bargain!

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Early Summer Kisses

Summer has opened her long light filled arms wide, and she was spilling soft kisses all along the West coast of the British Isles yesterday evening. Not a whisper of a breeze stirred the air, and the birds sang their tiny hearts out in thanks. The hillside buzzed with the contented drone of bees among the orchids and heather, and the seals swam in for and evening song among the gold fringed waves of the shore. She has come early with her gifts of long warm sun filled days, and she is drawing fresh life from earths dark folds, with her steady brightness.  


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The Stillness of the Lichen Woods

We walked the other day, between ancient trees, draped in fine clothes of moss and lichen. The air was as pure in the mouth as spring water, and the sounds of the outside world were muffled and absorbed by the soft green cloaks of moss. Only birdsong and the gentle breeze moved the air, and the beauty of stillness filled our souls. In dappled pools of sunlight, the moist air softened our skin, and the perfect co-operative balance of life unfolded around us. We were walking in the magic of a Celtic Rainforest, unchanged for thousands of years. 

 The lichen drapes itself in generous layers over branches and trunks, the perfect partnership between the form and shape of a fungus, and the photosynthetic energy production of an algae. This partnership produces a wild array of shapes and colours, all living examples of successful co-operation between species. And what a beautiful display is produced by this symbiosis. In Spring , long before the fresh leaves of the season open to cover the branches, the trees proudly display their winter coats of lichen. These Celtic Rainforests stay green right through the heart of winter, with their beautifully textured and coloured lichen leaves. 

With names like old mans beard, gold dust, great shield, moonglow, silverskin, sunburst, greater whip wort, witches hair and lungwort their fairytale enchantment casts a timeless spell. When examined closely they become little forests of trees within large forests of trees, weaving a greening spell across the earth. The lichen draw their food, nutrients and water, from the air itself. This magic is supported by the carpets of moss and liverwort which absorb and release the mist and rain, in just the right amounts to sustain a wonderfully moist air. This soft green velvet sponge is the climate control of these rainforests, and it coats every stone, climbing up around the bases of the trees, and perhaps if we stood still long enough it would flow over our feet too. 

The mosses and liverworts grows in thick lush mounds as soft as a sponge, and covering the whole landscape. It gives the feeling of eternity, as though nothing has disturbed this ancient landscape for millennia. Among the native hazels, oaks and birch a whole unseen layer of life is rolling on unaided, and untouched by human hand. Some of the Atlantic hazelwoods around Skye, Lochalsh, Argyll and the Western Isles are thought to be over 9,000 years old, which is pretty close to eternal in my mind. Nothing needs to be done here, life just needs to be left to carry on as it has in the ever-rolling seasonal cycles.  

Forests of lichen and moss filter the air to produce the freshest sweetest breath of green air I have ever breathed. Silence rings like tiny silver bells in my ears, and I am transported somewhere far from everyday jangles and tangles, into the soft green lichen woods of Scotland’s West Coast, and the land of fairy enchantments. There is nothing to do but rest and breathe and listen, and let your imagination run wild and free.

You can read more about the incredible nature of Scottish lichens here.

Look here to learn more about the rare Atlantic Hazelwoods of Scotland

And this is a lovely link to information and a map of sites of the Celtic Rainforests of Scotland.

Lichens, mosses and liverworts have long been used for dye and for medicinal properties. Many have antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and were used for centuries for packing the sword wounds of clan warriors.

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Futures Weave

Day opens unseen

Fates silky fingers turn threads

Twisting future life
In response to the WP challenge theme ‘future’

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Earth Cycles

Here in the hills where the wild sheep grow, tended by rain soaked winds and sun kissed clouds, the grass grows impossibly green. It rolls in velvet folds across the low green lands, giving way to a thick plaid of golden frosted heather and bracken, as the earth rises to meet winters crumbling mountain stones. There is a line which runs all across the high slopes, above which the bare rock heads of the mountains peep through the soft coloured blanket of soil and plants. The bald grey and black of gabbro and basalt, running in frost shattered rivers of scree, towards the soft fertile pastures of the glens far below. On the highest peaks, soft wool clouds dust the cold stone mountain tops with icing sugar snow daily. The clouds drift through on the wings of wind which may have begun thousands of miles south among emerald Caribbean isles. We can only wonder what tales are whispered by the snow filled wind into the stone ears of the mountain peaks, and what the mountains say back to the passing breeze. What we do know for certain is that the wind brings the rain and the snow clouds, which water the thirsty grass, which feeds the hungry sheep, which grows the warm soft wool, which is knitted into gloves and jumpers to keep our soft bodies warm… the biting cold wind…….which brings the rain and clouds. 

The photos are taken in Glen Brittle on the Isle of Skye, Scotland in response to this weeks WP challenge ‘landscape’.

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Glen Brittle Fairy Pool Magic

Deep in the heart of Glen Brittle, a crystal clear stream pours down from the Black Coullin, tumbling through pools of turquoise blue and pastel pink. The Allt Coir a Mhadaidh, Stream of the Foxes Hollow, has carved a stunning series of waterfall linked pools. The water is snowmelt for most of the year, and even in the height of summer it is ice cold despite its tropical colours. These are the now famous Fairy Pools, and if you look closely you might make out the speckled stone faces within and around the tumbling water.

All around the Glen stone faces watch unblinking from the earth. Speckled or dappled is considered touched by or owned by the sidhe, the fairy folk of Scotland, and this place holds a lot of speckles. The speckled folk was another name for these magical otherworld beings, and the pools of Glen Brittle, or Bhreatal in Gaelic, are just one of their haunts on the magical Isle of Skye. Their lichen dappled faces peep out from all around the rocks themselves, and they can shift shape into speckled trout or salmon, and swim as far up or down stream as they please.

These pools with their stone-faced guardians, were seen as places where gifts and divination could pass through from the magical otherworld, and into this world. Places where wild forces could snatch away life, or grant healing, and where wisdom could be sought. The speckled trout and salmon who inhabit the waters were holders of this wisdom, and could travel the waters between the worlds.

These waterfalls are on a truly large scale, despite being dwarfed by the towering mountains behind them. There is something utterly transformative about standing at the edge of tumbling water, feeling the spray damp on your skin, hearing your ears fill with the voice of the falls and your eyes held transfixed by the eternal motion. Nothing can remain static here, even the solid rocks of the riverbed are giving way and transforming in the unending flow from mountain top to ocean. It’s a place to let go and just be, and see what comes to you.

If you do chose to join the growing band of wild swimmers who come to the pools, swim with respect in the pools of the speckled folk. They were here long before we set foot on the earth, and will continue to flow once we have all passed through this life. Beneath these huge mountains, let yourself feel small and powerless, as you move through this landscape of elemental Giants. There is no need to change or fix or do anything here, just feel your breath in your warm soft body.

We dipped no more than our feet and hands on this occasion, and as we walked back, fresh snow was dusting the mountain tops. Cold doesn’t even begin to describe the water, but it left a sparkle.

You can see some other Fairy Pools here in a previous post.

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Coullin Candyfloss

Coullin Candyfloss 

Spun in soft sugary tufts

Across cold black teeth

Day 3 of the 7 day nature photo challenge which Amy invited me to join.

Click here for day 1, The Dawn

Day 2, Mountainous Half-Light.

Today I’m inviting a lovely blogger from Sweden who visited me in Edinbugh. She takes beautiful natural shots and shares my love of the natural world, trees, mountains and hairy dogs. Pop across and look at Tina’s lovely work for yourself.

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Mountainous Half-Light

In the half-light between mist and sun, within the deep folds of the winter Coullin, a sparkling bridge of light spans the Choire Laggan. Some say the rainbow bridge Bifrost leads all the way to Asguard, home of the gods. It’s guardian Heimdallr has nine mothers and teeth of glittering gold, so perhaps think twice before stepping onto this bridge. Others swear that sparkling pots of fairy gold lie at its foot, but we know for sure that this bridge of light leads the way to the Hollow Corrie and its turquoise blue waters. Today however, with winters snow still clinging to the Coullin peaks, is not the day for this adventure. As we watch, tangled drifts of mist and cloud brush across the jagged rocks, softening them.  

Further up Glen Brittle, the clouds and mist won the day against the sun, and swept in around the curved bowl of Coire ne Creiche. Sitting with a soft cloud blanket around his shoulders, Sgurr an Fheadain, sits proudly guarding the Glen of the famous Fairy Pools of Skye. 

His name means Rock Pipe, or Water Pipe Peak, and you can clearly see the line of the pipe splitting the pyramidal peak in two. Today was not the day to swim in these magical waters, but the swiftly ever changing drama of cloud and sun around the Coullin peaks wove its own spell. The conditions up here can turn in moments, as the jagged peaks weave their own weather from the passing clouds and wind. Just half an hour latter the rain clouds moved off, and left us with this parting shot. 

 The mixed half-light of cloud and sun can offer some magical landscapes, and if variety is indeed the spice of life, then this mixed light offers our senses something very tasty indeed. This landscape is never the same twice, which is a wonderful aid for staying in the moment and living in our senses, rather than caught in our thoughts. Each moment here offers something fresh and rather magical, and their are fairy hills and pools woven with myths and gods around almost every corner, if you know how to look! The sharp eyed among you might spot Molly strolling into shot in the right hand corner!
This post is in the theme of half-light to tie in with this weeks WP photo challenge.

Also this is day 2 of my 7 day nature photo challenge. 

I’m inviting Laura over at eljadee to join in today. She takes wonderful arty wildlife shots often from within London city. She is also very creative with her photo blending and editing. Pop over and take a look at her site. 

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The Dawn

The day shows herself

Letting in light by layers

Shade flees to the folds.

Taken as the sun rose over the Plockton Crags on Good Friday morning. 

Find more dusk and dawn images at WP weekly challenge ‘half light‘.

This is also Day 1 of a 7 Day nature photo challenge which Amy nominated me for!

Today I’m inviting Sarah to join in. She takes incredibly beautiful and intimate photos of butterflies, birds and flowers. I love her eye for detail.

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