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Three days in October


A puckle times o late I hae seen something tae mak ma hert lowp wi delicht.

Kennin me an ma guidman wad be in Perthshire toward the back end o the year, a freend speirt haed we iver been tae see the ‘Enchauntit Forest’? This is an oot-o-doors soond an licht shaw that comes intae its ain in the Faskally widlands ootby the wee toun o Pitlochry for aboot fower weeks in October, whan the nichts are drawin in.

Nou we did ken aboot this seein as in ither years we haed aft been in Pitlochry aroond hairst time an seen the advertisements for it. The Enchauntit Forest Community Trust haes been pittin on this spectacle for aboot ten year an it’s a guid thing they dae; the siller it brings is uised tae gie support tae worthy causes roond aboot.

But ower the years, mair aften than no, the wather haesnae aye been guid whan we hae been up that wey, sae gaein oot, on a dreich nicht tae spend oors walkin aboot ablo the trees an likely gettin droukit, didnae haud a muckle appeal for us. Furthermair, haein gotten a bit splittery fittit as ye dae whan yer nae sae young, the thocht o stotterin alang a widland path in the daurk, aiblins throu glaur, juist addit tae oor reluctance!

This year, houiver, we decidit tae stop girnin aboot the wather, shaw a bit mair smeddum an gae oot an see the Enchauntit Forest for oorsels. As it sae happens it wis a fine nicht wi nae sign o rain, an whan we got there, we war gled tae see the paths dry an weel eneuch lit. We could gae roond wi confidence, wioot the worry o skitin an daein an unexpectit henner in amang the trees!

Anent the shaw itsel, we thocht it wis awfu weel duin. A sense o a forest comin tae life at nicht. There war lichts o ilka colour rinnin ower the watter an up an doun the trees; animal ghaisties flittin in an oot, an wee beasties settlin on the bouquets o flouers burstin intae bloom than reflectit on the watter; trees streetchin awa, brainches like the wavin airms o icy blue an green spectres; sichts tae catch the een whaur e’er ye turnit: a glent o a muckle puddock alangside o a lowpin hare doun the scroggie bank.

‘O The Wild’ wis the theme, an the muisic, voices an soonds mairit richt weel wi the lichts an effects. We could see hou it wis that this fine spectacle haed won sae mony awards an war fou o admiration for the fowk wha haed pit it thegither. We war sae gled we didnae lat it gae past us.

But juist the day efter, on the windy tree-lined road atween Pitlochry an Tummelbridge we couldnae help but be struck by the unsurpassable beauty o mither naitur hersel. Muckle aiks wi their pink an maroon tippit leafs; the bonnie birks, laden wi shimmerin dreeps o copper an gowd. Laricks, their ochre an licht green needles, seemin tae barely hing on in the tottiest tirl, yet aw the whiles turnin intae the maist delicate o lace. A fiery glowe risin fae thick cairpets o burnished ferns an plashin iver-gaitherin leafs streetchin intae the glen. Here wis a grand fareweel pairty tae the simmer wi ilka buss an tree nou deckit oot in their autumn claes o orange, crimson, gowd, russet, lime green, yellae. Braithtakkin sichts roond ilka bend. In pairts, muckle trees, their brainches airchin ower the road tae jyne thegither in glorious vaultit canopies. Shuirly naitur’s ain awe-inspirin cathedrals! Beauty wioot price. Whit a joy!

We war anely back hame a day whan it wis time tae gae alang tae the Mairch for Scottish Independence in Edinburgh; the last o fower pit thegither ower the past year by the group cryin theirsels ‘Aw Unner Ane Banner’ an the first we haed ony real thochts o gaein tae. It wis tae be fae the castle doun The Royal Mile tae Holyrood Park.

Nou we ken hou haurd it can be tae get fowk tae come oot tae sic affairs. E’en whan they are like mindit. But this time, nae switherin, we war daein it.

The mairch stairtit whan the ane o’clock gun soondit the oor as it aye daes fae the battlements o the castle. Growin fae a smatterin o fowk wi flags gaitherin twa oors afore, nou there war mony thoosands. In phone texts fae freends we war telt aboot trains an buses ower fou up tae cairy aw them wantin tae come. We heerd aboot fowk jynin the tailend miles back doun the road.

Amang a muckle sea of swirlin Saltires on The Royal Mile we could see fowk o aw ages. The aulder generation weel representit tho we war aye telt it’s them that haes nae interest in independence! Groups wi placards shawin they haed come fae touns the lenth an breidth o the kintra. New Scots, fae ither launds wi different flags; lassies wi blue pentit faces, prood bare-kistit chiels, auld men in kilts an balmorals, wifies wi backpacks haudin toddlers by the haund. Hale faimilies oot thegither, their bairns wavin wee saltires. Fowk spreidit oot in a line tae cairy muckle banners wi them on the ends haein tae walk sideyweys! Faithers wi wee anes atap their shouders alangside freends drivin theirsels in wheelchairs; yet mair needin tae be pushit alang an shoogelt ower the auld toun causie stanes. Sic an inspirin sicht!

Watchin fae haufwey doun the Mile, ma guidman wis dumfoonert there wis sae mony wantin tae shaw support, an that it haed taen twa-an-a-hauf oors for the mairch tae pass by!

Gaein roond by the Scots Pairlament, hirplin tae the feenish, an wi thoosands still comin ahint us, we could see Arthurs Seat risin oot o Holyrood Park, the sides o the weel-kent hill sprackelt ower wi saltires. It leukit like a welcome!

It wis sic a glorious thing tae be in the company o sae mony like-mindit fowk, an it makkit ma hert lowp! The pouers that ken aboot sic things say there wis a hunner thousand staundin up tae be coontit on that day. It wis like the cause o independence haed taen a firm haud in the psyche o growin nummers o Scots. I jalouse it’s a gaitherin force, aiblins e’en an unstoppable ane.