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Wick (Cordova): Week 2 – 29 March

And now it’s spring, meteorologically and temporally. This weekend the clocks went forward to herald the arrival of summertime (when, incidentally, the living never seems to be as easy as George Gershwin led me to believe). In Wagner’s Die Walküre the hero Siegmund greets the arrival of spring by singing to his sister Sieglinde the aria Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond, which one website translates as “Winter storms gave way to the merry moon”; after which, I’m afraid, it all gets a bit mucky. But I can’t help thinking it’s just as well Siegmund and Sieglinde lived in the primeval forests of German mythology and not, as it were, in Caithness; since here the Winterstürme show no sign of wichen, and instead are rattling the windows as though it were still January.

Bursting buds

Few of the classics, of course, would survive translation to Caithness. How successful would Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness be if it involved a journey up Wick River to reveal the ancestral savagery lurking in the human breast (or Watten, as I like to think of it)? Early drafts of the original script for Star Wars has Obi-wan Kenobi announcing, “Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy… Well, okay, maybe Thurso.” Paddington would still be sitting forlornly at Forsinard station, wondering how on earth he was going to source marmalade in the middle of a peat bog. And if Mary Poppins had tried to visit the Banks family in John O’Groats her feet would never have touched the ground; instead, wafted in the general direction of Scandinavia, she would even now be looking up “a spoonful of sugar” in her Swedish-English dictionary.

High Tide at Full Moon

In gansey news, I am now well embarked on the body. It’s a typical Caithness body pattern, six plain stitches alternating with five purl-and-knit stitches—the purpose being, of course, for the purl stitches to act like ribbing, draw it all together and make for a snug fit. Or failing that, in my case, a built-in corset, as if Captain Kirk had taken up herring fishing after he retired from Starfleet. I’m finding the 6-5-6-5  pattern a hard rhythm to relax into: unless I exercise ceaseless vigilance my fingers keep knitting extra knit stitches, or the five stitches of ribbing become eight or nine. It’s very distinctive; although, because of the drawing-in effect, you won’t really see the pattern to its best advantage till it’s blocked.

Last year’s seedhead

Well, the clocks may have gone forward, but I haven’t. Changes in time always do my head in, and somehow having all of nature fooling about making a rumpus outside your window only seems to make it worse. If Mr Bluebird so much as tried to land on my shoulder this merry morn I’d be reaching for my twelve bore before he was halfway through his first “zip-a-dee-do-dah”. Everything is happening an hour earlier, and I’m just not ready for it. Still, I should focus on the positives: in just six months we all get a proper lie in once again. And let the storms of winter blow then as they might, I think we can all agree an extra hour in bed’s a price worth paying…

9 comments to Wick (Cordova): Week 2 – 29 March

  • Lois

    “an extra hour in bed’s a price worth paying…“

    I have a feeling that a Great Dane looking for her breakfast would not agree with you. I am informed every morning at exactly the same time, by a large wet nose, hovering over my face, that she is in imminent danger of starvation.

  • Gordon

    Funnily enough, Lois, Margaret has exactly the same experience most mornings (and we don’t have a dog)!

  • Meg Macleod

    It occurs to me that you might qualify for the Guinness book of records..if such a thing still exists..there cannot be anyone alive who has knitted as many ganseys

    • Gordon

      Hello Meg, I’ve been entered in the category of “man most in need of getting a life 1960-2021”!

      • Meg Macleod

        It’s tempting to imagine a future archivist pondering upon the habit of using a single strand of wool and two thin pieces of metal to construct a continuous supply of garments with sleeves a little bit shorter than they ought to be and he might question ..was this man being punished. .the concept of doing something for fun having been lost in the annals of history…..xx🥴

        • Gordon

          Hi Meg, definitely a punishment, almost certainly for mocking a sheep in a previous life! Curse you, karma, you win again…

  • =Tamar

    “High Tide At Full Moon” – maybe not LOL but definitely snickering.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, you think that’s bad, I got terribly confused with “neap tides” when I moved to Scotland, as we usually have them with tatties and haggis on Burns Night…

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