A welcome relief today from the bitingly cold and wet weather we’ve endured lately. As the clouds cleared this morning, the snowdrops in the front garden might have nodded nonchalantly: ‘Well, we’ve been stood here all along.’
In her new collection, The Overhaul, Kathleen Jamie has a poem which also captures the feeling at this time of year, on a day like this when the warmth returns, that spring might not be far off. In her case, it’s not snowdrops but the return of a pair of ospreys from their winter sojourn in Africa to their roost near her town in Fife that does it:
those first days arrive
when the sun rises
higher than the Black
Hill at last. Brightness
and a crazy breeze
course from the same airt -
turned clods, gleam, the trees’
topmost branches bend
They chase, this lithe pair,
out of the far south
west, and though scalding
to our wintered eyes
look, we cry, it’s here
The next poem in The Overhaul is on the same theme, but reminds us that there could be a whole lot more wintry weather yet:
You’ll be wondering why you bothered: beating
up from Senegal, just to hit a teuchit storm -
late March blizzards and raw winds – before the tilt
across the A9, to arrive, mere
hours apart, at the self-same riverside
Scots pine, and possess again the sticks and fishbones
of last year’s nest: still here, pretty much
like the rest of us – gale-battered, winter-worn,
half toppled away…..
So redd up your cradle, on the tree top,
claim your teind from the shining
estates of the firth, or the trout-stocked loch.
What do you care? Either way,
there’ll be a few glad whispers round town today:
that’s them, baith o’them, they’re in.
Note: airt, Scottish Gaelic: a cardinal point of the compass; teuchit storm: wintery weather in March when the lapwings arrive from teuch, rough, wet and windy weather & teuchit, a lapwing; teind: tenth part of anything, tax, tithe. For appreciating Jamie’s poems to the full, I’ve found the Online Scots Dictionary invaluable.