climate | Scotland | action | writing

Paperboats Zine

The urge to explore and celebrate all the kinds of lives of Planet Earth is stronger than ever, but the environmental and ecological crisis demands we also lift our eyes, and our voices, to species extinction and habitat loss, to what is happening to the forests and hills, the rivers and seas, our streets and gardens. The writer’s instinct to pay attention has never been more vital. Literature can help us to see the natural world – and our place in it – differently.



The air is thick with ghouls and gunpowder.
Scour the scruffy verges, the rash of nettles,
rampage of brambles, the carpet of creeping ivy.

Read »
Snowy landscape with the sun shining through the branches of young birches

Snow Drought

I’m looking out of the window. It’s the end of January.  The trees and bushes are dancing to a wind that’s hung around for days.

Read »
Linlithgow Loch with palace int he background.


Somewhere on the train back from St Andrews, I watch the black clouds, the pouring rain, the shadow of Arthur’s Seat. It’s a striking contrast.

Read »
Ox-eye daisies in the sunshine

Field Notes

We began wanting their names; the weeds, small accidents of anemochory (sounding so like the name of a loch, but meaning only windblow).

Read »
Scottish Mountainside, snow on the peaks, very rocky with copper-coloured sparse vegetation on the lower slopes.


Look at the mountain
and you will see how the grass,
on stormy nights,

Read »
The Govan Milestone sculpture.

On Shaping Metal

When I was a child, my mother made a milestone. It is a sculpture wrought of metal, an arch topped with an inverse arch.

Read »
Bare branches of a walnut tree against a clear blue sky.

The Walnut Tree

I planted you beside the fence next to the field
that stretched green to the River Glass before
the storm that claimed the barn roof

Read »
Messy Woodland Clearing in winter

Into Clearings

Imagine a wood it is dark and warm
its damp places trackable through reed wet
the briared lochan its infinity of spored dust broken

Read »
Ravens flying overhead in a clear blue sky.

The Kinship of Ravens

“Did you see anything interesting?” I ask my husband. He has come in from taking the dog through the wee woodland at the back. 

Read »
Tawny Owl in a tree

End Song

Everyone wakes in the small hours:
lungs furred with broken air, faces
burned with snow.

Read »
Blurry image of a dog being walked through a storm-trashed sitka woodland.


You can see the earlier attempts. Marks traced in paint that dried sometime in the 1700s. A hair trapped forever in the gesture

Read »
Salmon Netter - Balmedie. Painting by Donald Smith.

Salmon Netters – Balmedie

We saw everything change, in a few herring-seasons. There is documentation. The shapes of the purse-seiners are caught accurately in the draughtsmanship

Read »
Autumn trees in orange and russet. Sun glinting through the branches behind them.

Time Seeds

The final chapter will remain unread.
Quite soon I must return this thrilling book
to its cosmic shelf.

Read »
Thread-bare prayer flags blowing in a storm against a backdrop of forest and stormy skies.


The wind is wild, but the drift of the stars around Polaris feels steadying; the night sky is too big for anxiety.

Read »
Sunset over a sea scape. Islands in the distance.

No Service

Connection stops here, hops
from 4g to 3g to GPRS (one bar
or less) unless you stand on the hill
downwind from the Shetland pony

Read »