Muckle Oaks frae Little Chestnuts grow – Inktense/Acrylic in a small Watercolour Moleskine

A wee fun painting to illustrate the rivalry between different parts of Scotland as well as to highlight a botanical problem. There is a fair amount of “Good-natured” banter between various towns and cities in our country. Because, in the long-gone past, communities were cut off from each other due to our wild geography, differences in accent, traditions etc grew up all over the place and these differences continue to this day and manifest themselves in humour, insults and, sometimes downright “passion”. The best known rivalry is between Glasgow and Edinburgh but other places enjoy having a go at each other – my home town of Kirkcaldy always tries to put Dunfermline down, ( and vice-versa), small Borders communities, such as Kelso, Galasheils, Melrose and Jedburgh have fierce inter-rivalry especially when playing rugby against each other. Everyone, however, agrees on one thing. Folk belonging to the Fife mining town of Cowdenbeath are considered to be – well, dim! Its not true of course but when you get a reputation its hard to shift. A former Headteacher I worked for came from Cowdenbeath. He was a highly qualified man. Folks used to say, “Headteacher? Cowndenbeath? Surely a contradiction in terms?

In his brilliant wee poem, “The Auld Man O’ Benarty”, Gordon Menzies tells the tale of a giant terrorising parts of Fife and Kinross. The summit of Benarty Hill looks like a giant sleeping and the poem tells how “Big MacBryane” kills it. One of the verses reads:

“ Big MacBryane, he was a hero. He’d been yin a’ his life.
His faither was a poacher, sir and his mother a spay wife
And MacBryane himsel’ ran a ferry boat across the River Quiech
“Muckle Oaks, frae little Chestnuts grow” – as they say in Cowdenbeath.

(I cannot find an internet link to this poem but I can send a copy to anyone who wishing it. Its over 20 verses long so a bit large to include it here. You also might need a translation of various parts)

The small painting shows an oak sapling I’ve grown from seed. I planted it at the rear of our garden yesterday. No worries about it growing to its projected 60-70 feet. I’ll be long dead by then. People are encouraged to collect and sow seed from local, mature trees. Its one way of ensuring healthy specimens for future generations. If trees are grown from seed from large plants which have survived our wet climate then there is a good chance they will succeed as well. Lots of hardwoods, such as beech were planted a few decades ago, using seed and saplings from drier parts of Europe. Now, as these trees start to reach sizeable proportions, many experts fear the wrong type have been planted and they will ultimately succumb to our weather . Make this Autumn the time where you collect seed and grow your own trees for your grand/great grandchildren.