Friends, family and casual readers . . . . I normally try to keep my blog posts in chronological order. This, I have decided, is a huge mistake. I still have walks and events from over a month ago that I haven’t written about yet, and this is preventing me from writing about more recent events. No more! From now on I will write to you about whatever is most salient at the time that I am inspired (and available) to write.
Starting from now!
I went for a walk on the hills behind my house this afternoon to look for open sundew flowers (I’ve seen lots of closed ones, but haven’t see any open yet and they are quite pretty) and bog orchids (also quite pretty, but mainly looking for them because I’d been told they were hard to find).
I meandered along through all the boggy sections, finding lots of sundews, but none open, and no bog orchids. I didn’t really think I’d find bog orchids as this area regularly has sheep grazing on it so is not quite a pristine environment.
I also found loads of my current favourite flower, bog asphodel.
Unfortunately it was reasonably warm (in Scotland this summer that means that it was probably above 12 degrees!). I would’ve been happy about this, except that it also meant Merlin was warm. And we were walking through bogs. Which meant pretty soon Merlin was laying in a black, muddy bog.
I decided to walk down to the loch I’d found last week to wash him off a little bit so continued following the bogs downhill and south, until I reached a burn (stream) which I assumed would take me to the loch.
This is where my walk took a turn (figuratively – literally it had already taken many turns).
I found a plastic bottle. Then a thick plastic bag. Then another plastic container.
I hate seeing rubbish, and particularly plastic, lying around like this. There have been quite a few times I’ve returned from walks on the beach with an armful of bottles and other debris.
Luckily the bag was mostly intact so I could put the bottles in and carry them out. I followed the burn down, picking up more bits of plastic along the way. It’s not that someone had dropped them here – they wash up or blow in during storms.
By the time I got to the bottom of the burn, my plastic bag was full. Luckily I’d found a decent sized plastic tray to put everything in. Unfortunately the bottom of the burn was not the loch, but the sea. The rocky shore line was beautiful, but covered in rubbish washed up from sea. Rope, fishing nets, cans, timber and, far outnumbering everything else, my nemesis: the plastic bottle. I started picking them up, but couldn’t carry them all. I found a laundry basket (shaped thing), and filled that . . . . but there were still more! Then I found a large plastic tub (probably from a fishing boat) and half filled that as well.
I looked around and couldn’t see any more plastic bottles. I didn’t look too hard or far, because I already had way more than I could carry back. There was still a lot of other rubbish out there, but it would have to wait for another time. I couldn’t leave any plastic bottles behind though.
I carried my large plastic tub up to where I’d left my other, smaller, plastic tray. I could carry one (and that was difficult enough), but how was I going to carry both?
I rearranged everything, tied the tubs together (I’d picked up one decent piece of rope on the shore because I had a feeling I’d need one) and created a sled. Now I just had to get home, . . . . over quite a big, rocky, nobbly hill. Or maybe several hills. I didn’t know. I had no map, no watch and no raincoat, which meant I didn’t know the best way home, how long I’d been out, . . . and it was raining!
I set off home, heading up the hill.
At the top of that hill (difficult enough), I was greeted with more hills.
And then an impossible slope (at least with a sled) down to the loch I’d missed before. I would’ve been better going back around the low lying bogs the way I’d come in, and ended up doing so from this point on.
Dragging the sled up hill was hard work, but reasonably straight forward. Going along the sides of slopes, or across rocky ground was quite difficult. I had 3 complete capsizes (with rubbish spilling everywhere) and several near misses before I did some re-engineering of my sled (including side barricades and buffers to stop my small tub swinging from side to side). I also learnt to pick a much flatter, albeit longer, path and to “feel” the sled better to quickly turn around and grab it before it tipped. I started having some appreciation for how difficult it must’ve been for dog-sledders in the Yukon (yes, it’s funny what I think about while stubbornly persevering with a difficult task).
I don’t know how long it took me. Several times I looked at the hills or rocks in front of me and thought that what I was doing was near impossible. At the least, very stupid. What was I going to do though? Leave a big pile of rubbish sitting in the middle of the hillside? If I hadn’t picked it up that would be one thing, . . . but to gather it all into one place and then leave it? No. And to gather it all up, move it up a hill and then leave it? No way!
This was a good reminder of how doggedly stubborn I can be!
Once I was back onto the bog, things got a lot easier. My flat bottomed sled was reasonably good over bogs and the hardest thing was trying to avoid running over every bog asphodel or sundew flower I saw!
Getting back into civilisation, I heard someone yell at me. Huh? “Well done!” he repeated. Ahhh, nice to know he approves and doesn’t just think I’m crazy dragging a plastic tub stacked high with rubbish across the bogs and along the road.
I dragged my sled into the driveway with a sense of immense pride and satisfaction. Time for a dodgy selfy to celebrate the moment.
I still hadn’t seen any open sundew flowers, nor a bog orchid. I did see something part way through my sled dragging that I thought may’ve been a bog orchid (nature’s way of rewarding me for helping out??), but it turns out it was just a pale butterwort. Still a nice find though.
The amount of rubbish that washes up on beaches around here is astounding. I wonder if the people on the ships simply throw things overboard, or if this is all stuff that has been washed away by mistake. Some of it has probably come from other lands over the seas. I’ve heard about the eddies of rubbish in the middle of the ocean, so I suppose it should not be so surprising to see so much of it here. It feels like a never-ending task, and somewhat pointless, cleaning up these isolated coves that probably nobody else ever sees, but I just think that now there is 1 (or about 50) more plastic bottles that will never make their way back out to sea again.
So, . . . sorry mum – this is why I didn’t get to skype you thisafternoon!
And if you’d like to know what an open sundew flower looks like, have a look here: https://cultivatingcarnivores.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/drosera_flwr_1.jpg