Tuesday, June 27, 2006

When the Gorse is in Bloom

Do you know that the Scottish word for gorse is 'whin'? And that there is an old saying which goes 'When the gorse is in bloom, kissing's in season'. The reason for that, is that there is some kind of gorse, or whin, in bloom here in Scotland, almost the whole year round! Even on winter walks through the countryside, you will see a scattering of cheerful yellow blossoms.
But springtime, May, of all months, is the best time of the year to see the Scottish whins in full, astonishing bloom - visit the Western Isles of Scotland and you will be dazzled by vistas of gold accompanied by the headiest of scents . Did you know that the whins smell of coconut oil? I always wonder what the travelling Scots thought when they had their first scent of coconut. Did it remind them of the whins, back home?
In the old days, on the Hebridean islands, blankets would be left out on the whins to air. The thorns would hold them in place, and prevent them from blowing away. But one unwelcome side effect, as somebody told me from bitter experience, was that you might get a thorn in an uncomfortable place, in the night! For make no mistake - these shrubs may be very beautiful, but they are also full of sharp thorns.
I love old woollen blankets and throws, finding them warm, attractive and full of character. Not surprisingly, in view of our winter weather, the Scots were pretty good at weaving blankets. As well as using them in my own home, thrown over a couch or bed or tucked cosily around my knees, in this rather drafty old cottage, I sometimes sell them in my Ebay Shop, but I'm never tempted to throw them over a neighbouring gorse bush. However, I do hang them outside whenever I can. If you have the means to do it, don't forget that - just like us - many old textiles can benefit from a little fresh air and light, now and then!


Rozanne said...

One of my favourite plants and so evocative of Scotland. As a Scot living in Spain I shall definately return to this site. Just by chance, my great, great, multiplied by I don't know what was mayor of Culross. Somebody Mercer. I must look it up. Congratulations on this blog!

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

I just found your blog but it appears you're not at home. Will you be returning and showing us more of Scotland?

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Many thanks for your comment. I ran out of time to keep two blogs going, and write my fiction as well. However, I do still write about Scotland quite often on my wordarts blog - last week's post, for example. Especially when, like now, I'm about to start writing a piece of very Scottish fiction. You can find it here http://wordarts.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/ellisland-long-road-to-new-novel.html

Ann Justin said...

I have been away from Scotland and resident in Canada since 1972. I always feel at home here in Canada when I see the broom/gorse anywhere. I used to see it often along the sides of the logging road I used to travel home for years. The yellow just warms and brightens my heart somehow. Thanks for sharing it.

I don't remember the word "whins". Is that a very broad Scots useage?


Ex pat Edinburgh boy . said...

I remember whins from my days at the Braid Hills golf course . Gorse was a name I heard later .
At one time there were whins all over the Braids .
Great wee golf course by the way .