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nigh four inches. The green of it matched the heather leaf on which it fed, and it bore on each segment tiny raised rosettes in pink, set on rings of black velvet, closely imitating the pink heath - buds. The copy was so true that living creature and flowering spray were one in appearance. This black velvet, so much used for insect patterns of all varieties, may possibly be meant to represent an effect of shadow or of empty space, behind or under the mimicry in the pattern, whatever it may be. Another beauty, a good sized hairy caterpillar, who has a habit of crossing the path, is clothed in sleek chestnut fur, with the customary trimmings of black velvet. He is a fine fellow in his way, feeding on and on till the end of autumn; so the warm fur coat must be comfortable. There are no bright pigments in reserve for the painting of the imago's wings, at least of these species. When the perfect moth comes forth it is dark night. In the dark they take their pleasure, and dark colours suit well the brown heathlands where they play.
On dry autumnal afternoons, though sundown be near at hand, there seems no need to hurry homeward. It is so sweet to sit down a while, cushioned among blaeberry and ferns, and let Time's steps steal past uncounted! The stillness is profound—like the still silence in a dream; for now the "squirrel's granary is full, and no birds sing." Between the red pine-stems a level ray strikes along the glistening pathway netted over with gossamer, weaving a silvery weft which stretches endlessly afar, till lost at last in the golden sun-mist. The way home takes us by the edges of the little loch. Since this time last year how spoilt it is! The great December gale flung down
its tallest pines along the right bank. Down into the water they fell, and there ever after they are likely to lie neglected and decaying-for it is worth no one's while to remove them. All the repose of the tiny lakelet with its clear reflections has vanished. The pretty water-looking-glass is shattered, without a hope of mending. Earlier in the summer we might have forgotten all this ruin, in the pleasure of watching the dragonflies on the reedy margin. Strong, swift, hungry hunters! arrayed in lucid tinsel, coursing up and down in the glory of the latest sunglance. Myriads of ephemera there are, in the plenitude of their monotonous enjoyment. There is a kind of pathos about them as they rise and fall by the million in rhythmic dance above the water, to the tune of "a short life and a merry one"! Two hours is the longest allotted to any one of them cut short to a few minutes by many a greedy trout. This is how an observant parish minister describes ephemeræ, in a county history of the last century (it may be concluded they are the creatures alluded to): "About sunset the loch is infested by flies of the gnat kind, which fasten in great numbers on every part of the fisher's clothes, and, leaving their skins, fly off sportive as from a prison. The incumbent has often returned home covered with their spolia opima." Flies of the gnat kind, and others, are but a by-interest. It is the spoilt loch that for the moment fills the thoughts with unavailing regrets. Happily the wood itself was not laid waste by that outrageous gale in 1894. Folk talked of the "blind fury" of it. It might be more graphically true to affirm that the storm fiend that luckless day deliberately picked out for ruin the loftiest old trees, the fin
est woods, the shelter that could least be spared, the choicest and healthiest plantations throughout the land. And then woods even of the grandest were overthrown with no Salvator-like picturesqueness. Fifty broad acres on one estate have been seen prostrate; yet the effect is not fine. The trees fell all one way as the wind blew, and lay along the ground in rows. But for the uptorn roots it might have been the work of the estate woodman. In wooded spaces of less extent the effect is often less formal, the timber more tossed about and broken up, as though the trees had made in vain a brave stand against the wind.
Meanwhile, with a quiet persistence, Nature repairs herself. I have seen an unthinned plantation, the firs standing so thick that for years sunlight had never penetrated the gloom. During a storm down they crashed, and a broad way through was cleared. The wood was ruined. But in less than six months after, a faint film of green had overspread the bare ground; and wood-sorrel and foxglove and vigorous stinging nettles, with seedling sycamore and chestnut and green things whose existence was unguessed, came up from earth, obedient to the law of sunshine. The reproach of barren gloom was lifted, and the whole place smiled in living green. In the pleasaunce of an old house near the river Dee, no repair like this seems possible. In the middle of a beech-grove one giant tree made as fine a picture as heart of landscape - painter could desire. For generations the group of trees had stood on guard, overshadowing "The Bride's Well," a shallow pool of clear translucent water, where, tradition tells, a bride who had fled from the house on her bridal night was drowned.
None now can say what might have been the forgotten tragedy that drove her to despair. The bare fact has come down to us. old ground-officer, when questioned, will half angered repeat: "It was juist a bride, an' she drooned hersel' as brides wull," as if quite a usual thing to occur! That fatal winter, when the blast of the Terrible One rushed past, not all the magnificent girth and strength of the great beech availed to save him.
In one moment he and his brothers fell, and the dark pool lay bare to winds and weather. Not always indeed by any means are Nature's laws kind to man. The great tract of wood a few miles off, where upwards of a hundred thousand Scotch fir and spruce went down, felled by the stormy power of the wind, knows since another power, in its way as great-the resistless might of the infinitely little. The tiny pinebeetle, always at work more or less undermining the bark, found his labour made easier by the prone condition of the timber. So they increased enormously, until their multitudes, becoming tired of the fallen logs, unscrupulously transferred themselves to the healthy trees that remained upright. Under the beetles' persistent onslaught these soon grew to be diseased and useless. There seems no way of getting rid of the plague, except to burn up the whole wood. Meanwhile, the little curculii go on prospering and multiplying to their hearts' content.
And now the little spoilt loch is left behind, and we are on the road once more. Long ago-yet well within memory - - a certain fairy ointment, the recipe whereof is lost, used to be rubbed over the eyes of children as they slept.
I myself remember, when a child, lying awake in the long Northern
summer twilight listening to the nurses gossiping together in the nursery. Talking of their former places one said to the other, "Mr Wilson came up ilka nicht while the bairns were sleepin', to rub ointment on their een to mak' them see the fairies"! Something of the kind is wanted now to enable many of us to see and enjoy in our walks things whose chiefest charm lies not in size or rarity. There are wild gardens at our gates that for the many simply do not exist. No one takes a walk purposely to see and enjoy them; yet there they are, ever at hand, ever ready to enchant the eye that sees. These narrow gardens need no care-indeed care would destroy them. The gardener is never seen to sow a single seed there, though one sees a thousand unpaid labourers at work in them all summer, till frost sets in and snow hides them. The birds of the air know well their labour rights! The gardens that lie on the edges of the roads between two stone dikes are fascinating indeed! The farther north one travels, the richer and more varied is the flowery edging. The sight of these flowers in their brief bright season of delight is joyful enough to beguile the longest walks. Miles of road are never wearisome, even on that almost treeless north-east coast, with such an accompaniment of blooming flowerborders. Endless are the varieties of vetches. One-Vicia craccais the commonest of all, covered with lilac clusters. I have seen a long quarter of a mile of beech hedge on the Peterhead road literally netted over with lilac vetch. One would toil on a long way to feast the eye on such wealth of ethereal loveliness. A botanist,
however, would not look twice at my wayside gardens, for they contain, as a rule, nothing scarce or curious. They are charmful solely because of the silent jubilation, as it were, of these crowded flowers and green leafage of them down there at your feet as you pass. The magic of them is their boundless variety-not of species, but of individual growth and manner. It is the gaudium of them. Most joyful gauds indeed, with their fresh yellows and pure whites, their blues and their purples! All seem to be there at the same moment; nevertheless, week by week, one after another, each separate beauty takes the lead. Deep beds of Galium, yellow or white (ladies' bedstraw), give place to starry firmaments of the little stitchwort, luxuriant yellow balls of giant bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), and spotted persicaria, delicately pink. Here and there, where green rushes betray some underthread of a little roadside runnel, is pale forget-menot, or a large-flowered yellow and brown-speckled mimulus, standing erect, looking what it is—a wanderer from the garden.1 Raggedrobin and rosy statice and hundred others, with ladies' mantle (Alchemilla), and too many far for naming, add variety and colour. Latest of all comes little quaint Euphrasia. And then, lasting long into the bad weather, there is sometimes seen the exquisite Galeopsis tetrahit (it bears no plain English name that I know). This belongs to the turnip-field over the dike-chancing now and again with the others in the road. It is like a glorified "archangel" or dead-nettle. But if an angel, then did its flowerchange surprise it suddenly, while
1 Now entirely naturalised as a wild-flower, it forgets it was ever otherwise.
yet the iris-light of Paradise had not faded from its wings. (A freak of fancy! must be tolerated, with the wonder of this small field-flower under our very eyes.) The colours are a lovely blending of primrose yellow with tenderest lilac. One other bright gem must not be unmentioned. Scotland's beloved little wild heart's ease grows everywhere, haunting the dullest roadside, the stoniest most barren spots. The velvet glow of its purple seldom dies away until extinguished in the snow. Autumn may come in with cold or wet, and go out in sleet or snow; the little flower that rejoiced us, freely blossoming all summer long, allures us still with its brilliant beauty. There is always just one more flower to be seen-and one more still as a surprise when all seems over and done; and then the very last is gone-and then comes yet another! and so on into dead winter. As summer slowly dies, the shining bloom of the roadside insensibly tones down into seeding. Black vetch-pods begin to cluster in the tangle, overtopped by spikes of red-brown sorrel. Carlododdies'1 stamened powdery heads are no more they ceased their play ere August waned and richly scented white clover disappears at last. But although we cannot ourselves tire of wild-flowers, and yet to talk of them too long is tedious, one word must be said for the loveliest of all. For what would our "narrow gardens" be without their bluebells? "The bluebells of Scotland" naturally know their place! and here are their clans assembled wheresoever there is foothold in crannies of the stony dikes. Or their airy bells wave suspended on delicate stalks all
through and through the grassy banks where the road dips down between, and Elrick burn flows across under the bridge. There are bluebells of every shade of that wan greyish love-tint we call blue. Now and then, to our joy, comes one pure white, ineffable in its perfect purity.
The wild birds delight in these old stone walls or dikes, where no cover exists to screen them. They seem to be for ever hopping up on to the topmost stones of them, and darting across or dropping down into the field before one can get near enough to see them close. Especially tantalising in this way is the fieldfare, or "Hieland pyat" as it is popularly known in Aberdeenshire. A pair of them will pretend to be quite familiar—will perch just a step or two in advance, and then fly off, perching again a bit farther on. And this little game will be kept up till at last off they go, flying far afield. All the time one has been vainly longing for a good look at their handsome plumage. Chaffinches number most, of all the small common birds. They are everywhere. Easier to tame than sparrows, and without question more delightful, they flit close round one's feet, learn to fly in at the window for food, or follow one about the garden in their pretty confidence. As winter draws near they gather into families, and are seen in lonely places, a few together in the trees. Poor little chaffinches! may they have a good time wherever they betake themselves, and no cares to damp their saucy brisk insouciance. Yellow-hammers, who look at one a moment and are gone, are but few hereabouts, and are lustrous as gold in the sunshine. Fewer still are there of that
1 Plantago lanceolata.
slender, gracefullest of birds, the yellow wagtail. Rarely are they met by burn or road. Yet they are tame enough to run up and down all day long on the roof of a house, peeping in at the windows. Out in the stubble is a great blackness of rooks. Thousands are feeding, with one or two black awkward fellows sitting on a fence as sentries. Country - folk have a way of foretelling the weather by the rooks' movements. What the secret of it may be I know not. Half the world knows no more about their neighbours the rooks than the old Scotch farmer who, on the occasion of a village meeting, when the lecturer proposed to read a paper about rooks, remarked, "What can he have to say aboot the craw? It's juist a bird that eats 'taties." Nevertheless, both wise and wonderful are the ways of the "craw."
It is at dusk of an October evening that the "tuwhit storm" descends upon the land, settling down on some big field that is in grass or stubble. Then the ground is grey with an innumerable multitude of peewits, or plovers. With them comes a mixed lot of starlings or of smaller birds. It is the eve of migration, and the plovers move jerkily about and are very silent. It is an excited crowd, however, incessantly in motion. When the plovers rise, the noise of their wings is as the sound of many waters. They need hardly make such a fuss, though, for they do not mean to cross the sea. It is only a short trip into Berwickshire that they propose. But what of those other birds who boldly dare the seas? How many, or how few, will land safe on the other side? There is a remarkable description printed somewhere of night-watchers in a lighthouse seeing the white breasts of hundreds
of birds beating like a snowstorm against the windows of the lantern, and of how the morning light showed rock and sea around strewn thick with their dead. The passionate impulse that urges a migratory bird has been known to impel one that is caged to dash itself against the bars so soon as the fateful hour has struck. The subject has deeply engaged many minds. It does so still, and it remains one of the profoundest of Nature's mysteries.
Round by Money kebbock (corrupted from the ancient name Mony Cabbucks, or Many Roebucks), past "the highlands of St Machar," or New Machar, is to my thinking a pleasant tramp-all the pleasanter because unknown to any tourist's guide-book! Bushes of wild rose (we have none too many here), with broom and gorse and bracken, border all the way up to the heathery fallows or highlands. A steep line of road rises through land broken with wood and corn and turnips, passing within sight of an old walled graveyard,—the church was moved up to the village a long time ago, in the middle of a field, by the farm of Chapel of Elrick. No path leads up to it; it stands like an island in the fields, overgrown with sycamore and wych-elm. One can enter by the small unlocked iron gate, and give a passing glance within to the long melancholy grass that hides a few forgotten names and dates graven on flat gravestones. When the trees are bare, a grey and ghostly tomb surrounded with rusty iron rails, in the centre of the enclosure, can be seen from the road, above the wall. In gusty winter nights the glint of a light has been seen to rest upon the central tomb. This is only when a wild west wind sweeps the country; and then, they say,