Thursday, 29 January 2015

Snow

It's been snowing on and off for the last twenty-four hours, sometimes quite heavily.  Yesterday, it was blown in by a strong, cold northwesterly, which also brought thunder and lightning and the usual short power breaks, but by this morning the wind had dropped.

Conditions along the road out of Kilchoan became bad last night, and some people who tried to drive out this morning turned back when they saw the state of the road at the cairn and along Loch Mudle, but the Fort William bus managed to leave, and the mail came in.

At lower levels the snow didn't last, particularly along the road by the shop and across the marsh at the back of the bay....

....and even on the hills above Ormsaigbeg the snow cleared quickly, as did the roads after the gritter had been along them.

All morning further flurries of snow came in.  This isn't good weather for the crofters' sheep, even for those in the croft fields where they get haylage and salt licks.

Some Kilchoan sheep decided this wasn't the weather for grazing out on the marsh, so they came along to the shop to enjoy the grass on the flat land by the jetty where, in August, the Regatta marquee stands.

 For the sheep in the hills, life is much tougher, and....

....the red deer are having a particularly hard time as they have very little fat on them.  What I can't understand is....

....why, even in this bitter weather, we can't be free of slugs.

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for the pictures of the hill sheep and the deer.

Contrasts

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for this picture of a trawler off Ardnamurchan Point yesterday afternoon, taken as the light was going, in stark contrast to....

....this tranquil shot, taken by Out&About, of swans on Lochan na Crannaig, also taken yesterday.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Water Reed

There's a triangle of tall grasses on the corner where the track down to the slipway leaves the road that runs along to the shop.  No-one ever cuts it, and it's too thick for even the most inquisitive small boy to penetrate so, at a place which is one of the busiest in this small community, it's a little piece of undisturbed nature.  In the summer it's full of noisy small birds such as warblers but, at this time of year, it remains silent except for the sound of the wind sighing through the close-packed stalks.

It's been cut back along the side that borders the slipway track to make room for the scattered clutter of the boating fraternity - kayaks, yachts with their halyards rattling against metal masts, dinghies, creels, old rope and buoys - all offering more habitats for the local wildlife.

The third side, which faces Kilchoan Bay, shows that the grass is growing on the peaty land which is part of the salt marsh around the bay, an area cut by water-filled gullies and often inundated by the sea.

The grass may be water reed, at one time a valuable local resource for roofing, but nothing here is thatched any more.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Monkeys' Wedding Day

Just for a few moments yesterday afternoon, the low winter sun found a gap in the clouds above Lochan nan Al and shone through a rain shower.  To me, as a child growing up in Africa, sun and rain together marked a monkeys' wedding day.

Looking up the phrase on Google produces a few references to the phrase - see, for example, this site - enough to prove that it relates to very ancient folk lore - ancient because, although monkey can be replaced by tiger, fox, rat, hyena and many other animals, it is used widely around the world.

The African origins of the phrase, as explained to me years ago, lie in a folk story.  Back in the days when the world was young and all animals lived peacefully together, two monkeys wanted to get married.  Only the lion could perform the ceremony but, being lazy, didn't want to.  However, in answer to their pestering, he promised that, next time the sun came out while it was raining, he would perform the ceremony.  The monkeys, unwilling to wait until the rainy season, which was months away, chose the next bright, sunny day and, while the lion was lying in his den, climbed up and scattered a gourd-full of water in front of its entrance so it looked like rain, obliging the lion to marry them.

It's a lovely story yet it's more than just a story because there's moral hidden in it.

Community Centre Gift

This is a special 'Thank You' to whoever sent this lovely card to the Community Centre with a very kind donation - but no name or address was given. They hope that the generous person is a Diary reader and that they can express their thanks this way.