x

Issue 15, our latest magazine, was launched on 7 April -  take a peek inside

Read our latest blog posts about the Launch and the University's May Festival

View the Launch Photo Gallery

A Seasonal Bouquet from Pushing Out the Boat

‘ Whatever the weather, wherever you are, make sure you are accompanied for your pleasure and entertainment by North-East Scotland’s very own Pushing Out the Boat.

– from Frances Walker’s Foreword to Pushing Out the Boat Issue 12

Winter

Elizabeth Waugh [lino print]

As I write this, an October Indian summer has already hurtled downhill past a delayed North-East autumn to the long haul of winter. It’s a time to be reminded of the seasonal riches that lie in past issues of Pushing Out the Boat, our not-so little magazine of new writing and the visual arts now as old as the century – it first appeared in 2000 in, yes, autumn. Our wonderful contributors may forgive me if I slice and dice their precious work to pick out some seasonal gems. Selected extracts only hint, of course, at the deeper issues and bigger stories in their complete poems and stories. You’ll find a full listing of their work and the magazine issue it appeared in at the end of this article.

As autumn approaches, some of our authors sense the softer side of autumn, like Beate Allerton’s

temptation in the autumn mists,
savouring
the spices of soft and moist earth

and Angela Arnold’s

… hails of swallows and
then all that black bird-snow of starlings.

Of course, at 57⁰ North of the Equator (Aberdeen) or more, our contributors from hereabouts also know what the seasonal weather brings us, from Robert Ewing’s

Wind-skelfs, then
bullet-rain bruisin
the day

and Fiona Russell’s

On a nor-easterly
it comes,
gathering like a foul temper
That bastard ice wind

to Mary Johnson’s harsh reality that

For sax lang months norland fowk
Thole dreich, dark days and jeeli nichts.

It’s also not surprising in our largely rural area that birds and beasts attract attention. Jean Atkin writes that

In this endless winter at the end
of short afternoons
the sheep know
when I go out to cut holly

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

On ice heave ground I squat to watch
how their brown eyes are split
by horizontal yellow bands, and
I ache for green.

In more comforting mode, Maggie Wallis retrieves one of her hens ‘perched in the rosemary again’:

As I crunch a track over the snow
she makes a sound; that low
contented sound of hens.
I tuck her in closer.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

So many miles we have hiked
this same journey every night.
I and a white hen
Tramping over moonlit snow.

The imagery provides a reminder that not all is harsh in those ‘dreich, dark days’. Christine Laennec records

the soft gentle darkness
of my street in mid-winter

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

my neighbour waving to us
from her golden doorway
a moment’s greeting
before the clicking lock
returns her to the warmth of the fire.

After the excesses of Christmas and Hogmanay many of us, at least in Scotland’s North-East, feel the need like Jen Cooper to clear our minds with a New Year walk by the sea or up a favourite hill

We emptied our thoughts
off Oxen Crag today,
wind froze them to snow.

Finally, we know there’s a long way to go before spring but like Kris Erin Anderson we cope

Fields without flowers,
matted grass, trees too tired
to fight against the wind.

We are not at a beginning
but the middle – grey and silent.

We bury thoughts
beneath blankets and braid
our legs into one.

Whether or not you get to braid your legs into one, Pushing Out the Boat wishes you for the season all that you wish yourself.

Many back issues of Pushing Out the Boat are still available to buy. If any of the work featured here stimulates your interest, you can order copies online here.

This is the work cited in this article, arranged alphabetically by surname of author (and artist).    Issues 9 – 13 are available to read in full online.

Beate Allerton, Woman on the Seasons, Issue 6, page 59
Kris Erin Anderson, January, Issue 11, page 5
Angela Arnold, Autumn Move, Issue 9, page 8
Jean Atkin, White, Issue 10, page 6
Jen Cooper, New Year, Issue 11, page 69
Robert Ewing, Drawing oot, in, Issue 6, page 47
Mary Johnson, Winter, Issue 6, page 87
Christine Laennec, Winter Lights Within, Issue 9, page 41
Fiona Russell, Ice Wind, Issue 9, page 28
Frances Walker, Foreword, Issue 12, page 1
Maggie Wallis, Night Walking, Issue 13, page 83
Elizabeth Waugh, Winter [lino print], Issue 9, page 30