As I write this in the first few days of April spring hasn’t fully arrived but there are welcome signs. The weather is beginning to warm up, farmers can be seen out in the fields and the birds are singing away. It’s been a strange winter. I have only really used the snow plough a couple of times and yet it has felt like a much colder winter. We could still get a punishing frost but as each day lengthens the sun gets warmer.
In March we had two very unusual occurrences. On the 20th we had a near total eclipse of the sun. As we stood in expectation on the lawns of the Palace, around 9am on that Friday morning, the clear sky began to, annoyingly, cloud over. Would we miss this almost biblical spectacle? A strange light, almost a half light, settled on us and the singing birds fell silent. My son later told me that his hens returned to roost. However, almost by magic at 9.30 am the clouds broke and we got the most astonishing view of the near total eclipse. How lucky we were and it was a pleasantly strange, though provoking experience.
A few days later another mystical experience occurred. This time it was the Aurora Borealis or the Northern lights. Agitated magnetic particles in the atmosphere cause this spectacle and although it isn’t rare in northern lands it is unusual to get a good view in Pitlochry! For those who were lucky enough to be out, late evening, it was another weird experience. What must our forebears have thought without the benefit we have of scientific explanations for truly exhilarating, often scary, events in the sky?
In the gardens we are embarking on a fairly major tree planting exercise. Not mass plantings but quite significant plantings of special species trees like sorbus (rowan) betula (birch) and prunus (cherry). Of course we won’t see the best of these plantings but future generations will and that is one of the pleasures of planning a garden or woodland.
With spring almost here we are itching to get digging in the vegetable patch. It’s an annual ritual but planting the 1st early tatties means that digging them up to try the first shaw is getting closer and that is one of the joys of the veggie patch.