The Duchrae of Balmaghie
The farm I know best is also the loveliest for situation. It lies nestled in green holm crofts. The purple moors ring it half round, north and south. To the eastward pinewoods once stood ranked and ready like battalions clad in indigo and Lincoln green against the rising sun—that is, till one fell year when the woodmen swarmed all along the slopes and the ring of axes was heard everywhere. The earliest scent I can remember is that of fresh pine chips, among which my mother laid me while she and her brothers gathered ‘kindling’ among the yet unfallen giants. Too young to walk, I had to be carried pick-a-back to the wood. But I can remember with a strange clearness the broad spread of the moor beneath over which we had come, the warmth of the shawl in which I was wrapped, the dreamy scent of the newly cut fir-chips in which they had left me nested—above all, I recall a certain bit of blue sky that looked down at me with so friendly a wink, as a white racing cloud passed high overhead.
Such is the first beginning that I remember of that outdoor life, to which ever since my eyes have kept themselves wide-open. Of indoor things one only is earlier.
It was a warm harvest day—early September, most likely —all the family out at the oats, following the slow sweep of the scythe or the crisper crop of the