Honeysuckle in the Highlands

Honeysuckle in the woods of Scotland.

“Wherever there is suddenly more light, flowering plants also try their luck, including honeysuckle. Using its tendrils, it makes its way up around the little trunks, always twining in a clockwise direction. By coiling itself around the trunk, it can keep up with the growth of the young tree and its flowers can bask in the sun.

However, as the years progress, the coiling vine cuts into the expanding bark and slowly strangles the little tree. Now it is a question of timing: Will the canopy formed by the old trees close soon and plunge the little tree into darkness once again?

If it does, the honeysuckle will wither away, leaving only scars. But if there is plenty of light for awhile longer, perhaps because the dying mother tree was particularly large and so left a correspondingly large gap [when it fell], then the young tree in the honeysuckle’s embrace can be smothered.

Its untimely end, though unfortunate for the tree, brings us some pleasure when we craft its bizarrely twisted wood into walking sticks.”

—Peter Wohlleben The Hidden Life of Trees

We stayed in an old stone cottage beside Dubh Lochan and along Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park in Scotland. See the place here. The jet lag was horrendous. I lurched about the small, stout little Goldilocks home between the bedroom, living room couch and the glass conservatory outside and did nothing but try to sleep, try to stay awake, eat, drink and read for seven days.

In desperate need of a huge bag of cocaine and a pallet of Rip It energy drinks, but having to settle for pre-ground coffee, I set the kettle on the gas range and stumbled back into the living room and fell upon the couch before the hearth.

When I managed to muster the wherewithal to make it back to the kitchen plumes of black smoke were billowing from the plastic-bottomed electric kettle that sat aflame atop the gas stove.

Ahhhh! What the ****! Holy ****!

Fumbling about I managed to find something or other with which to fling the toxic flaming wreck out the back door onto the brick patio.

Later we purchased a replacement at Marks and Spencer. The owners gladly accepted the new kettle, and then deducted the cost for yet another one from our security deposit.

I made cowboy coffee instead. Pot. Boiling water. Coffee. Let it set. Pour it off the top. No need to confuse things and get fancy.

I read some mediocre forgettable fiction written by freshly published, highly educated authors with expensive degrees from world renowned universities. And I had along with me non-fiction including Wohlleben’s incredible little revelatory book about trees.

Between suffering the ravages of jet lag and reading his book I went for long walks down the small lane that ran along the lake out front and I wandered into and through the woods that surrounded our cottage eating wild berries and getting riddled like a pin cushion by swarms of the devilish wee highland midges.

One day in the midst of this tortuous delirium, seeking respite in the cool and moist woods so vastly different from the dry hot slopes of my natal land, I stumbled across this here honeysuckle vine just as I had read about it in Wohlleben’s book.

Related Post:

The Mighty Chanterelle and the Gnarly Oak

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6 Responses to Honeysuckle in the Highlands

  1. Ha ha! I can’t believe you put the electric kettle on the gas stove! You’re lucky the fumes didn’t kill you to be honest. Did the owners laugh?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like your blog and read it all the time. I know its probably just trying to be funny but why the comment on cocaine? Its a highly addictive drug that destroys lives so why normalize it so it sounds okay and cool. Do you use it routinely?

    • Jack Elliott says:

      No. I’m not a user of cocaine.

      As to normalizing cocaine with my comment, I’d say cocaine was normalized a long time ago. Decades ago. It’s part and parcel of American popular culture; references are replete in the media from the written word to the visual arts to the audio arts. It’s everywhere.

      When Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting references Freud doing enough cocaine to kill a small horse, does that bother you?

      I really don’t see any problem here. It’s a rather benign reference.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      I suppose I may be insensitive to your point, although I do understand your concern. My mother died in her early forties from substance abuse. The problem isn’t unknown to me.

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