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TITLE
'The Heart is Highland' (2)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_MAISIE_STEVEN_02
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Maisie Steven
SOURCE
Maisie Steven
ASSET ID
40981
KEYWORDS
audio
Literary Landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'The Heart is Highland' by Maisie Steven, first published in 2001.

'It is hard not to appear to exaggerate in expressing what the snowdrops meant to us. Although we did not actually belong to the farming and crofting community, we were all the same acutely aware of the rhythm of the seasons and their activities - the ploughing, the harrowing, the sowing, the potato planting, the various harvests - but, especially, we were involved in the productions of our own large and fertile garden. Not that we could have been classed as keen gardeners! Indeed, I wonder whether teaching children skills like pricking out small plants, or even pruning, would not arouse their interest more than the mundane weeding and clearing of stones which fell to our lot? But the snowdrops... nothing, we felt, could ever be as exciting as those first brave green shoots pushing up, to remind us that spring was on the way. Sometimes we would search to find them under several inches of snow, and that was even more of a thrill. And we would always feel thankful that at least they had a warm blanket to cover them.

Having renewed acquaintance with the earth after a longish lapse of time, we would be impatient to use the spring-like day to explore further. Away we would go up the field that went steeply up from our back fence (always, though, having first asked permission; we were never allowed simply to disappear). At the top of the field was a wood, a magical place. But on this occasion we might well by-pass it to climb to the top of the second field, which took us high enough to look down upon the whole wide glen spread below, the fields that yellowish green so reminiscent of January days. What we wanted to see most of all was the loch; from our east-facing windows we could barely catch a glimpse of it; but now it could be clearly seen, spread out like a dark shining mirror. We could pick out the two rivers, the Enerick and the Coilty, flowing through the villages of Drumnadrochit and Lewiston respectively, like black snakes as they appeared from time to time among the trees, making their way to Loch Ness. A stand of sombre-looking yews marked the glen's ancient burial-place. Dominating the view to the south-east was the pudding-shaped bulk of Meallfourvonie, more than 2,000 feet high. We would plan the expedition we would have one day, to climb it and perhaps see the whole of Loch Ness from there... sadly, it was to be at least 20 years before it happened.'

Maisie Steven wrote 'The Heart is Highland' in celebration of her childhood in Glen Urquhart near Loch Ness in the 1930s and 1940s - the kind of outdoor life sadly denied many children today - in a warm and lively month-by-month account which begins with the first snowdrops and ends with the holly-picking at Christmas.

At the same time the book offers the reader an insight into the community life of the glen with its emphasis on strong family values, and a moral and religious ethos which still left room for a great deal of enjoyment and fun. The book, with its evocation of simplicity and freedom from today's materialism, has brought a warm response from readers far and wide, and is now into its third edition. The author emphasises that it should not be regarded as mere nostalgia, although of course is that as well!

As a nutritionist concerned with Scotland's food habits, she also wrote 'The Good Scots Diet', a review of diet and health from earliest times. Introduced to 'The Old Statistical Account' by her late husband, Campbell Steve, a prolific writer on outdoors Scotland, she fell under its spell, and after many years of research produced 'Paris Life in 18th Century Scotland; (Scottish Cultural Press, 1995) which was short-listed for the Longman History Prize, and 'Gems of Old Scotland' (Argyll Publishing, 2008), aimed primarily at schools and colleges.

Maisie Steven is the mother of Dunkeld-based poet and writer, Kenneth Steven.

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'The Heart is Highland' (2)

2010s

audio; Literary Landscapes;

Maisie Steven

Literary Landscapes: Maisie Steven

This audio extract is from 'The Heart is Highland' by Maisie Steven, first published in 2001.<br /> <br /> 'It is hard not to appear to exaggerate in expressing what the snowdrops meant to us. Although we did not actually belong to the farming and crofting community, we were all the same acutely aware of the rhythm of the seasons and their activities - the ploughing, the harrowing, the sowing, the potato planting, the various harvests - but, especially, we were involved in the productions of our own large and fertile garden. Not that we could have been classed as keen gardeners! Indeed, I wonder whether teaching children skills like pricking out small plants, or even pruning, would not arouse their interest more than the mundane weeding and clearing of stones which fell to our lot? But the snowdrops... nothing, we felt, could ever be as exciting as those first brave green shoots pushing up, to remind us that spring was on the way. Sometimes we would search to find them under several inches of snow, and that was even more of a thrill. And we would always feel thankful that at least they had a warm blanket to cover them.<br /> <br /> Having renewed acquaintance with the earth after a longish lapse of time, we would be impatient to use the spring-like day to explore further. Away we would go up the field that went steeply up from our back fence (always, though, having first asked permission; we were never allowed simply to disappear). At the top of the field was a wood, a magical place. But on this occasion we might well by-pass it to climb to the top of the second field, which took us high enough to look down upon the whole wide glen spread below, the fields that yellowish green so reminiscent of January days. What we wanted to see most of all was the loch; from our east-facing windows we could barely catch a glimpse of it; but now it could be clearly seen, spread out like a dark shining mirror. We could pick out the two rivers, the Enerick and the Coilty, flowing through the villages of Drumnadrochit and Lewiston respectively, like black snakes as they appeared from time to time among the trees, making their way to Loch Ness. A stand of sombre-looking yews marked the glen's ancient burial-place. Dominating the view to the south-east was the pudding-shaped bulk of Meallfourvonie, more than 2,000 feet high. We would plan the expedition we would have one day, to climb it and perhaps see the whole of Loch Ness from there... sadly, it was to be at least 20 years before it happened.'<br /> <br /> Maisie Steven wrote 'The Heart is Highland' in celebration of her childhood in Glen Urquhart near Loch Ness in the 1930s and 1940s - the kind of outdoor life sadly denied many children today - in a warm and lively month-by-month account which begins with the first snowdrops and ends with the holly-picking at Christmas.<br /> <br /> At the same time the book offers the reader an insight into the community life of the glen with its emphasis on strong family values, and a moral and religious ethos which still left room for a great deal of enjoyment and fun. The book, with its evocation of simplicity and freedom from today's materialism, has brought a warm response from readers far and wide, and is now into its third edition. The author emphasises that it should not be regarded as mere nostalgia, although of course is that as well!<br /> <br /> As a nutritionist concerned with Scotland's food habits, she also wrote 'The Good Scots Diet', a review of diet and health from earliest times. Introduced to 'The Old Statistical Account' by her late husband, Campbell Steve, a prolific writer on outdoors Scotland, she fell under its spell, and after many years of research produced 'Paris Life in 18th Century Scotland; (Scottish Cultural Press, 1995) which was short-listed for the Longman History Prize, and 'Gems of Old Scotland' (Argyll Publishing, 2008), aimed primarily at schools and colleges.<br /> <br /> Maisie Steven is the mother of Dunkeld-based poet and writer, Kenneth Steven.