Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

A Bird in the Hand..

There has been a few close encounters with our feathered friends recently. A storm blown cormorant pecked at Bruno-dog when he investigated it, we thought it best to leave it rather than attempt a rescue. sadly I came back a couple of hours later to found it dead which left me feeling terribly guilty. A couple of days later I was having a strange encounter, I’d been travelling back from family visiting in Edinburgh by that most plebian form of transport, the megabus. I overheard a conversation & sat quiet and surly, examining how much my political views prejudice me against people from certain social classes. So much for non-judgmentalism and tolerance for all, the irony.  My tolerance collapses for the very rich, the intolerant and the right wing. This lady had missed a flight, was having a rotten day and was clearly going to be completely stranded trying to get to a hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere for a massive upper class hunting ball thing, she had no idea how remote things are up here and how public transport simply doesn’t exist to some places. So i had to grit my teeth and do the right thing & offer her a lift.  I think her outfit probably cost more than my annual income, and was that real fur?! However, underneath it all a human is a human.  On the drive back,  i tried to keep this side of social rather than socialist conversation, and not be too obviously sick at some opinions about diversity and ‘britishness’ that were expressed.  So she got to the lodge and i got to drink cheap whiskey with a director of British Gas and ask him about the problems of fracking, It was a rather bizarre cross cultural exchange!

But during that drive, in the middle of the road was a stunned small barn owl, I stopped to avoid hitting it, it spun and hopped across the road into the bushes, thankfully missing any cars. There was a lot of traffic and it was pitch black on a dodgy bend so i didn’t deem it safe to go investigate and do an owl rescue. More bird related non intervention guilt. Earlier on in the Summer i’d found a stunned tawny Owl in the road, it was a quiet empty stretch on a moonlit night so i’d stopped and picked up this little fellow, how light they are for their size ! when i picked it up s/he’d looked me square on, make a clacking noise and then lifted his/her wings and flown off into the trees. It was wonderful.

Today working at the computer, the sun came out a little, flocks of birds were busy stripping the larch and pine trees of bugs and seed in the garden. I heard the thud of someone hitting the window. so went to investigate. a female chaffinch sat on my bench outside the back door, stunned, another chaffinch was fussing around and trying to jolly the groggy bird along, hassalling it to get up and fly away. When the fit bird spotted me it flapped and hopped around a bit more, then reluctantly flew off to a safer distance abandoning its companion. This time i decided to interfere. My cat is a good hunter and would soon dispatch any sluggish small creatures, so best i get there first. The chaffinch blinked at me blankly, matching my stare, not perturbed at all when i stroked it and picked it up, it stood on my hand quite comfortably as if it hung out with humans every day. eventually after a warming cuddle i found it a sheltered nook in the trees out of the cold wind, to let it recover out of the cat’s reach. A wee while later it had gone, hopefully safely on its way. I still wish i could have saved the Cormorant though. I suppose one can’t fix everything.


New year comes with tidy ups. I make paperchains to decorate the house at Yule out of junk mail and xmas card envelopes. It appeals to my austere defiance and creative pattern making, recycling obsessiveness. I had some ideas of burning the paperchains artistically draped somewhere incongruous, but really i have too much of a non-creative work backlog to go out & play.  I’m stuck chugging through Excell, publisher, uploading and downloading. I can’t afford to use the central heating, dodgy 30 year old white meter tariff storage heaters that Albyn housing association has been procrastinating about replacing for over ten years,  this winter the living room has been between 8 – 12 degrees Centigrade during the days…brrr. So i tend to get very cold numb hands and feet working at the desk all day no matter how many jumpers I pile on. The trick is to eat little and often and move about regularly  Like a small bird, stay active, keep refueling and don’t stay still too long. I do have one of those dodgy old gas bottle heaters than a neighbour kindly gave me, but today this sputtered out of life, i won’t be able to afford a replacement bottle for a week or so.  It stunk of nasty gas, so it was a good time to go outside, get fresh air and burn some clutter to warm up!  The paperchains met their  very inartistic and rapid end. WHOOSH! The flames created their own art though anyway. I wasn’t fast enough with the camera as the chunks of paper flew and fluttered like so many birds around my head. a tissue crown from a cracker gently flew off into the trees on the thermal updraft.
I have a few ideas, if i ever get time, i want to make structures, things to burn and send out on the lochs and rivers. That’s nothing new of course, but nothing is in art. We’ll see.

Meanwhile i have some fire service work on to do with IT training & support. Also some ‘facilitating’ and training to do with our community woodland project to get a training plan up and running over the next three months. Busy busy, the fun bit was drawing a tree for the posters. Hopefully later in the week I’ll have worked enough headway on these jobs to take some art time, I need to draw more trees, and birds and swirling Fire beasties!

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This entry was posted on January 9, 2013 by in Blog and tagged , , , , .

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