People, Peat and Poetry Project – Flanders Moss Writers group Part 2 -10 year anniversary

The Wheatear’s Moss – Cara Ruth Woodhouse Fraser
A footstep muffled, echoes slightly,
Silence answers only.
A word is whispered,
Water stirs, a skater moves, so slightly
A splash sounds, stillness is broken, and the sound is soft yet brutal.
Bounding away are deer, never heard.
An intruder moves so boldly,
Bog cotton flickers, like candles at dusk,
Daring all to move closer,
Cradling the heath, cross leaved and all,
Alas the intruder has wandered.
Wind picks up, ascend do the martins,
Mushrooms, all gloom, are enticing,
The intruder reaches forward, his fingers meander,
Murky is water below.
Blankets of moss have hidden their secrets,
Summoning all to their death.
Dead not decayed they’ve lain awaiting,
With histories untold, destined most certain, it’s yet to enlighten,
The darkness is most absolute.
Air and wind are scented with richness, earthy and moist is foliage,
Thick and watery is peat,
And that dripping marsh, remains so cold, to grip, with hand.
Moving upwards, the martins swoop, swallows sweep,
And the swifts they dance.
Down in marsh and bog, that darkness, mirrors face,
A frivolous figure’s entranced, he stumbles,
And as the swallows above cry,
Moss hag engulfs a wandered soul.
The moss fir lies flaccid, limp and wet.
Dark is water,
Trembles does the grass,
Waiting is the sundew,

Flickers does the light,
Hunting is damsel,
Shivers does the bird,
Basking is the snake,
The moss awoke, now it lies in wait.
The trees will ever trespass; the intruders will always come,
The peat will ever preserve, the respectful will always
And I will ever watch and dart, as the otters pass on by.
The moss will never be lost,
And will forever,

Touching the Void – Linna Monteath
There are times
when time itself falls away:
there are no words
to net this feeling.
Lying on a highland moor
on a clear winter’s night
you are wrapped in stars
and your mind starts the journey
trying to grasp infinity.
So it is with Flanders Moss
at the edge of time itself:
deepness takes hold,
the fragile strength of sphagnum
on aeons of peat past
and pulls you under,
sinking in silence
to be in the old world.

Sunlight and Peat – Suzanne Humphris
I use sunlight over and over again.
I fix it and mix it with rain
To form my water filled self.
I absorb light and take it with me
To use it over and over again
I am going downwards, far from the sun,
but I am formed of its energy.
I am taking the sun with me.
I have it stored within me
To use it over and over again.
I am breaking down with my neighbours.
Down, to become thick dark fuel
We are in the dark.
We become the dark
And use light over and over again.

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People, Peat and Poetry Project – Flanders Moss Writers group -10 year anniversary

Flanders Moss Writers’ Group

Flanders Moss – Linna Monteath
From the grey of everyday
the argent and sable moth heralds
a path of black and white
among silver birch bark
and fine black sedge
crested lark heads of white climbing fumitory
four-petalled windmills of sweet woodruff
a mass demonstration of bog cotton
waving white flags
over dark pools.

Seven thousand years of ice
and sea, and sea and ice
carved, scoured, washed and sanded
Seven fathoms deep the moss now,
the standing strands of sphagnum

compacting down to peaty history
but reaching up for light
holding radiance in sea-anemone fronds.
A soft green bowl of precious, pristine world
absorbing our breath and our fumes
saving us
from the grey of everyday.

The Carse Moss – Chris Powici
flat land deep land
nothing higher than scrub birch
between you and those miles-away mountains
heat-hazed and blue in the distance
the very air feels empty, cleansed
and so you look down
down through the wind-shivered seedheads
of hare’s tail bog cotton
to shallow beetle-furrowed pools
fringed by quaggy almost-islands
of deer grass and heather still to bloom
and the sheer living green of the moss itself
infinite low-rise of sphagnum
intricate and crowded as a city
and all of it floating
on seven thousand years of peat
soft land dark land
earth on the verge of becoming water
earth you could drown in –
the cool rich stuff of death
oozing its slow milky mud
just a step
just a thought away
then a bird shrieks
you look up

and the June air’s crammed
with damselflies, gull wings, light.

Moss Lairds – Charlie Gracie
They came from the glens in the higher lands
cleared like weeds for the sheep by the fat lairds
scraped their way from one job to another.
When they met the Moss, they fought it hard
tugged the life from it
tossed its sodden heart into the Forth
watched it float, brown and drowned
to the sunrise and the flat wide firth.
All the skill of men and all the skill of women
squeezed out of the brown ooze
flushed into the river, nothing now but waste.
For eight thousand years this place had grown
feeding on the rain and the deadness within it
layering and dying and breathing
all its fierce life a collaboration of moss
all its beauty a wet thing of the wind and rain.
Now, a rump of Moss holds on
a soft jewel set in the flat land
slowly forming in lucent green
the Moss Lairds’ shouts blown to the hills
their whispers buried in peat.

Sphagnum Moss – Isobel McGuire
Aeons ago your ancestors
Founded that first layer.
Like you their needs were few –
Water and light to fuel their purpose
And nourish their rootless frames.
Now their emerald, russet and
Apple green colonies
Are the foundations of a tower of peat –
Deep, deep down in the depths of the moss.
And you, in turn, will follow the pattern.

Mirror – Sally Evans
I hear the water swishing down,
this equilibrium of rain.
I think of waterfalls and trees
leaves dipped with liquid weight,
river floods that rush and foam
from cloud and burn to strath and firth
but more, how the wet-sated moss
blinks this raised mirror full of light,
invites parched earthlings to stumble
and plowter in its star-shaped ponds,
of patchy depths and aqueous animals
their lives made possible by mist and rain
as my life has been made possible in Scotland,
this country I love for its rain

Moss Haiku – Suzanne Humphris
Papery rustle –
Look for the sound,
A dragonfly.
A full blue bowl
of sky and cloud –
I feel small.
I remember,
look for the sundew –
am rewarded.

February on flanders moss – Magi Gibson
In morning sunshine
feathers black as mourning silk
death perches on a leafless tree
wraithed in mists, dark firs wait
like forgotten Roman armies
doomed to haunt the edge of time
a scots pine, stunted, stands
its branches gnarled as an ancient’s hands
begging kindness from the passing clouds
in a flat green field, ditched around with brown
a scarecrow leans, the next along lies
face-down in the mud, nameless
soldier in the Somme
a shot rings out, twenty herons lift
into a sky of gun-metal grey
forty wings in a flap
late evening sun slants, the moss
beneath my feet makes
human gurgling sounds
behind my back my shadow stretches
a silent ghost

Flanders Moss – Isobel McGuire
Swooping gull and hovering kestrel,
Cotton grass, bog asphodel,
Peaty pools that mirror skies,
Iridescent dragonflies,
Chuckling stonechat, croaking frog
In this wild primeval bog.

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People, Peat and Poetry Project – Thornhill & Kincardine of Menteith Primary School – 10 year anniversary

Thornhill & Kincardine of Mentetih Primary School

Written by the children with the help of Louie, who produced this very creative film using cotton grass to create a Caterpillar.

Hopefully you have not missed our first blog in explaining why we are sharing these videos, if so make sure you go back and read previous posts.

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People, Peat and Poetry Project – McLaren High School 10 year anniversary

McLaren High School

We suggest you watch this video several times, listen to the song lyrics, compare how the vegetation on the moss was then and go back to our most recent blogs of how Flanders Moss is now…. 10 years on and it’s far wetter with an abundance of sphagnum moss forming. You will have also have noticed that the viewing tower had not yet been built.

We’d love to hear from any of the young people who have appeared in this video and if being part of this project still return to Flanders moss.

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People, Peat and Poetry Project – 10 year anniversary

Flanders Moss, NNR

Recently we have been going through the shelves that stand behind the team’s desk, and came across files of all the wonderful projects the Stirling Reserve team have been involved in. We noticed that a cover of a disk was approaching 10 years old this month ‘People, Peat and Poetry’ and thought ‘let’s have a look and see if it shows us any visible changes to the moss’.

Scottish Natural Heritage innovative poetry project focused on the oral history, bio-diversity and wild beauty of Flanders Moss. Four poets worked with the local nursery, playgroup, primary schools, secondary schools and writers group using a range of styles from nursery rhymes to ballad, from haiku to rap. The result is ‘People, Peat and Poetry’, a rich tapestry of of poetry inspired by Flanders moss.

This project was also supported by Forth Valley and Lomond Leader: we can achieve more when working together. Over the month we will be publishing the videos the local schools took part in, 10 years has been and gone. Of course, everyone has aged since then so you will notice some familiar faces. Quite possibly the people who were all involved will be doing some reminiscing……. (in a good way).

Remember to like an share the blog, that way everyone who stars in the videos sees it!

Stay Tuned!

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Dawn Chorus & Under The Microscope Exhibition

Dawn Chorus & Under The Microscope Exhibition

For the last couple of weeks The Macroberts Art Centre at Stirling University has been exhibiting the art from the Dawn Chorus and Under the Microscope projects which really promotes Flanders Moss and the creative environmental education work we do with young people.

As most of you already know, Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve is the largest raised bog in the UK. ‘Dawn Chorus’ and ‘Under The Microscope ‘ is inspired by the birds and extraordinary plants that live on the bog, which provides a rich habitat for wildlife.

Over the last two years we have turned our boardwalk at Flanders Moss into an outdoor art exhibition, and now thanks to artist, Jessica Langford and Kate Sankey (West Moss-side) the exhibition continues to show the works produced, raising awareness of this very important habitat and the species found there.

Under the Microscope
Under the Microscope

The level of detail the young artists have captured in their art is spectacular and continues to blow our mind with how talented our young people are.

The exhibition will continue until the 8th November, so feel free to pop into the Stirling University – following the link above for further information.

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MSc students visit Flanders Moss

Flanders Moss, NNR

A couple of weeks ago we hosted the annual site visit for Stirling University MSc students who are about to study environmental policy and management. The number of students was close to 50 but thankfully for this field trip the group was split into two groups.

You will know from reading previous blog posts we can achieve a lot more working in partnership than on our own, so for this annual event which has been happening for years, we work closely with the adjacent land owner Kate from West Moss side.

Half the group met me in the car park for me to explain why Flanders Moss is important and discuss the restoration work which has been carried out.

Meanwhile, the other half of the group met Kate on the opposite side to discuss the land management on her farm which is farmed organically and with wildlife and habitat conservation principles since 1998.

Many of the students had some interesting questions and suggestions of possible research projects for Flanders Moss, which in all would not only help the students but help with the future management and further our understanding of the reserve.

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