A recent search among Tom’s brewing supplies discovered a bottle whose contents suggested mystery. We opened it, and it turned out that the bottle did not contain questionable mead at all, but was rather a Landlord clone, of at least two years vintage. It was clear as a bell and tasted delicious – evidently one can leave this stuff in its bottles for longer than one expects without fear of decomposition . . . or explosion.

The marvellous mystery ale has inspired a day of industry. A new brew is brewing. . .

. . . the Christmas cake is about to go in the oven. . .

. . . and I have ripped my fishy project back to the beginning, re-charted it, and started knitting it again. I woke up in the middle of the night and had an idea for its improvement that I just couldn’t shake. This is the way it goes sometimes. I am sure that the fishy thing will look better for the re-working, and find myself excited about it anew. And there was further fishy excitement this week . . .


(I apologise for the quality of this photograph, which was taken with my phone.)

This is the weir on the water of Leith close to where I live and you’ll just have to take my word for it that the white dot between the water and the bank is a heron. (Really, it is a heron.) I see this particular heron-buddy in the same spot every day, and often wonder if the pickings in that part of the water are rich. It turns out that the heron must be enjoying a seasonal feast, as, after some heavy rainfall the other day, I spotted several huge salmon leaping the weir to get upstream. It was curious to see this in the middle of the city, surrounded by old mill buildings and chimneys – the relics of Leith’s industrial past. I have been enjoying John Muir’s writing recently, and was reminded of his words about nature’s restlessness and resilience. It seemed good to think of life renewing itself in this dark, declining part of the year.

26 thoughts on “industry

  1. Hope this isn’t off-topic. I like the egg cup wearing a little knit cap on the back of your cooker. Is that an egg cozy?
    I can smell that steamy vapor all the way to Santa Cruz :)

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  2. That weir is also a common feature on my dog walks and I saw the heron swipe a huge fish out of the water the other day. Very excited to hear about the salmon, I will look out for them ……..

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  3. This filled me with joy. There is something very special about this time of year, especially between the hours of 2 and 4 (in London) when something quite remarkable happens with the atmosphere. Much glee too at spotting our old friend the owl.

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  4. I wish I could taste your mead — your descriptions always sound so lovely as opposed to the overly sweet stuff that goes by the “mead” name here.

    I live in Texas in an area that is a vacation land for birds — we are constantly seeing herons, white and gray. When my stepfather died, they started popping up everywhere I went. On the side of the highway…just standing there till I passed. We finally decided it was my stepfather Bud saying hello. And I’ve come to accept the heron as my totem.

    However, there was a time when we were driving by a flooded area and saw a flock of bright pink birds sitting in a half-submerged tree. They turned out to be roseate spoonbills. Bright pink is quite shocking when you’re used to blue-gray or white.

    So glad you’re getting stronger, Kate. I’ve had some minor malfunctions of knee and elbow and have found that working out in the water is the best, offering resistance and support at the same time.

    On the other hand, your hill walking just boggles this little flatlander’s mind…

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  5. If you’re reading John Muir, you really ought to come to California and go to Yosemite. :) We don’t have shetland wool, but perhaps all our indie dyers can whet your palate. And, all the hiking trails of Yosemite will surely be good for your rehab.

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  6. Christmas cake! I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. The holidays are the best–so much making of food, and gifts. It totally makes up for the dormancy of the outdoors!

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  7. I can tell it’s a heron, but I’m secretly a bird watcher…

    And I love finding well aged mead at the back of a closet, those forgotten about bottles tend to be the best ones!

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  8. What a fine heron indeed! There is always one by the little park in St Andrews, just outside the botanic garden (or indeed across the fence in the BG sometimes). I love watching him. He seems to like the walkers, and the students, and occasionally turns his head and watches us watch him.

    I also saw a seal sunning itself on the beach on Wednesday. That was pretty nice.

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  9. Herons are an excitement. We have a blue heron rookery not far from here that we visit and view by bike. Exciting also is reading your references to places that we have visited when we were in Edinburgh – the water of Leith. We may even have seen your weir on one of our runs!

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  10. I have a few photos like yours of heron so recognised the shape instantly. We are lucky to see herons fly over our flat most days to fish in burn in park beyond (in South Lanarkshire). One day about 6 weeks ago I saw one from kitchen window at rear flying towards the burn and 5 minutes later 2 flying towards window much lower than usual.Thought they were too getting close but they suddenly veered to left…no camera to hand but wonderful memory. Probably this year’s young one and parent. We have seen the youngster making some rather clumsy catches in burn over summer evenings. How lucky we are!
    We’ve occasionally found bottle of our home brew beer that is over 5 years old and so far they’ve been fine. Proof that brewing and bottling hygiene is good…and 5 year old elderberry wine is mmmm

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  11. I recognized the heron too. I used to see my Blue heron on the way to school earlier in the year but I think he’s gone south now. Also, I actually like what the phone did to the colour of your photo! I think it looks like an old snap from the ’70s.

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  12. We have a Great Blue Heron who visits from time to time and poaches the goldfish/koi pond. We have named him, Sydney. He’s a rather elegant fellow in his grey feathered suit. I often see herons on my drive to school. Even as spots, they are instantly recognizable. Muir Woods, in Marin County, California, is not too far from where I live. The redwoods are truly amazing! Have fun and good luck with life!

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  13. A heron cleared out our garden pond a couple of years ago! Not that I minded, I like them very much. I am impressed with the productivity of your weekend.

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  14. When I looked at your photo, my eye went right to the heron. Here in the US, they are not that rare. It is amazing to watch them, they are like statues.
    I am looking forward to your nightly inspiration!
    Greetings from Boulder.

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  15. Funny, John Muir is newly appreciated at our house too. So inspiring, makes up want to visit the places he loved. Cake, beer, knitting… what a lovely household you have there today!

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  16. We have a ‘regular’heron right by us on the Thames in Bishops Park, Fulham, too! Weird to see such a thing in the city, I agree, I’m much more used to them ‘where I come from in Yorkshire’ – a sign of the times, I g?!

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  17. I was menaced by a great blue heron at the park the other day. I tried walking behind him carefully so as to not startled him from his fishing. Instead he turned around, wings wide and he stepped in my direction clacking his beak! Shocking from a bird who is usually shy, but then, it IS his pond.

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  18. Years ago while drive home from work on one of our California freeways I spotted a heron in an area near an onramp. The grasses were quite tall and it was just standing there. If I could have I would have pulled over just to watch it, but probaby would have caused an accident so its a good thing I didn’t.

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  19. Herons are easily among my favourite birds. I once had the pleasure of watching one fish or the better part of an afternoon — I just could not pull myself away from the spectacle.

    Something fishy, yes? Can not wait to see!

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  20. I occasionally see a heron at more or less the same place on the riverbank when I’m walking the dog. Lovely to see it.
    I made a Christmas Cake at the end of October. First time in many years since I last made one. It looks ok so hoping that the extra “feeding” it gets will help to make it a good one.
    Good luck with your fishy project.

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  21. I thought it was a heron, even before I read your words! We see so many herons here in the Netherlands that we rarely remark on them.

    You have my mouth watering with your beer and cake. Yum

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  22. My hubby saw a Heron sat on a roof of a house in the nearby estate the other day. He said he was sure it was a garden ornament until it took off-no photo evidence mind you so maybe it’s a (semirural) urban myth?

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