From the recording Our Living Rivers and Glens
This song was inspired by the 7 red giants submission. Although I’m in Aboyne regularly I had never noticed these wonderful redwood trees on the way to the castle. I began to wonder how they had arrived in Scotland as they are Wellingtonias, also referred to as Californian Redwood or Giant Sequoia. After some asking around I found out that the seeds were brought back by the Marquis of Huntly, likely around 1850 – 1880 from California . He allegedly brought back around 1000 seeds and the then Prince of Wales also used some of them. They were planted around the old Aboyne Castle Estate and avenue of them was planted at his English Estate, Orton Longueville. The real story wasn’t quite as romantic or fanciful as I imagined, interesting as is it but I started thinking about a young lad setting off to make his fortune in the Californian gold rush and writing home to his family about how he felt being many thousands of miles away. It seemed appropriate to write it in letter form - no whats app or facetime available then!
Dear Mither,I hope this letter find ye weel.
It’s been a year since I hae heard fae you and da and aa’ the bairns,
I’m sorry I hinna found the time tae reply tae yer last letter lang sin syne.
Dear Mither, I’m deeing gran’ and working hard.
The fowk are freendly here as well but nithing like the couthy, country cheils
And the view ootside is nae the same and I miss the hills an the trees o hame.
Dear Brither, Yer ower young tae mind on me.
I left tae folly a seam o gowd afore ye were bit twa year old
And maybe ae day fan ye’re a man ye’ll arrive ower here wi a pan in yer han’.
Dear Faither, the pyock is stappit fu’ o seeds.
There’s big reid giant’s ower here, ye’ve nivver seen the like I fear.
So bring them on an’ they’ll growe tall tae remind ye o yer loon sae sma’.
Dear Jeannie, I’ll mind on you for aa’ ma days.
We’ve wandered by the Tarland burn tae watch the simmer change and turn.
An ye’’ll maybe aft times think on me fan waakin by yon reidwid trees.
I canna write nae mair ye see, for thinking on ye bleers my ee.
© Shona Donaldson