Document 544

Craiters: 20 - Biz-Bizzin

Author(s): Alexander Fenton

Copyright holder(s): Alexander Fenton


We drove in e car fae Krieglach, bye edge o Mitterdorf, throwe e village o Veitsch wi its industrial biggins, an up some steep, twiny roadies till we cam till e parkin place. Wir guide - e lady o e Gasthof - hid been ere twice afore an she'd teen er freen as weel's er three an a half ear aal graandother, an I wis fine pleaset tae be invitet tae jine in a jaant. We set aff at acht o'clock in e mornin, for e Aastrian wither report hid said it wis tae be aafa hait later - bad enyeuch if ye wis walkin, bit waar tae be coopit up in a car even wi windaes aa open an air at wis supposed tae be cweel blastin in fae e dashboord.

Fae e stoppin pint, we set aff alang a forest track, ay climmin, wi e great, fite, jaggy ootline o e Hohe Veitsch in wir sichts, a mountain o magnesite. Ere mn a been a gweed updracht, for a glider wis swingin abeen e peaks, back an fore, back an fore, an niver lookin like needin tae come doon. A big helicopter wis huntin aboot like a vulture tee, nae lookin for prey, though, bit keepin an ee on e climmers in case ony o em got intill a ticht nyeuk.

In e open spaces amon e trees, on banks an slopes, ere wis een o best craps o blaeberries I've iver seen, far mair berries an bigger eens'n ony I iver saa on e skirts o Culsalmond. Fowk wis gaitherin em wi widden scoops wi an iron kaim fitted at e moo. Ye cd fairly speed up e gaitherin at wye an I saa in a shop in Krieglach at ye cd buy em ere. It wis a temptation tae get een, bit ye canna aye be buyin aathing. Aa e same, noo I'm hame, I wish I hid. I'll need tae gang back, I some doot, though I div hae a picter o em. E lady at ran e shop tellt's at in e aal days fowk jist pickit fit ey nott, an ate em fresh an sweet, bit noo at ey've aa got freezers, ey can scoop up bigger quantities an keep em for usin later. Ey're nae jist sae fine, for half ripe berries come wi e ripe eens, an it's jist a fine example o foo modren wyes can spile quality - an syne ye get eest till't an tak e peerer livvel for grantit. Nae at I'm smitten wi e 'gweed aal days', bit quality's quality, an it wid be fine tae think at fowk cd get e best fae e past an keep it e best intae new times.

We dippit doon intill a howe, alang a nairra track at file ran wi watter like e bed o a burn. In e weetier pIaces e canny Aastrians hid putten doon widden polies ye cd walk on, jist a touch skiddie here an ere. Bit wee Sarah skippit on like a gweed een, nae bother, an nae mishanters. Ilky sae aften ye got an openin in e trees an syne ye cd see e steep, girsy slopes o e Alpine pastures, wi young scrub in patches throwe’t an sometimes stretches o bigger trees. Ye cd easy tell at es wis a man-made laanscape, aa e same, shapit be e munchin teeth o cattle beas maybe ower hunners o ears. Nae at e pastures were split intae parks. Ey ran up withoot ony diveesions till e V-shapet screes at e fits o e fite rock faces at tooert abeen em.

We held ay on, e zig-zaggin o e roadies makkin’t easier tae wirk wir wye up, an ay e little quinie trottlin on aheid, er legs knipin on an for aa ye cd think bouncin like a rubber baa. An aal freen o mine, a Deputy Director o Education, eest tae say till's - mair aften 'n eence - at een o e biggest puzzles tae him, a trainet psychologist, wis e wye bairns jumpit an skippet. Ey'd be walkin alang e street, mim's ye like, haadin eir mither's haan, fin aff ey'd go, a hop an a skip an a bounce. Iv coorse, aa young craiters dee e same. It's naitral. Bit fit is’t garrs em dee't?

Aifter a file, fin I wis startin tae think we wis niver gn tae stop, we saa some widden hooses abeen's. Close till em wis twa bonny kye, broon an fite, een wi a braid collar roon its neck an a big bell hingin anaith. It wis handy for e lads at e huts tae keep track o faar eir wards wis, even in e dark or maybe in e mist, for e beas bade ootside aa nicht. Ey geed till e hills in June an bade till early September, fin ey’d tae fit it back till e laicher lyin fairms again, E fairmers didna aa gang up emsels, bit took on e herds tae look aifter e beas. Ilky herd, wi eez faimily at een o e huts, lookit aifter sae mony fairmers’ beas, an e fairmers in e group wis members o at partickler grazin association, Een o e fairlies I hidna kent aboot wis e keepin o pigs at e huts. E first place we cried in on hid aboot five, fine healthy lookin grumphies, weel eest tae fowk.

A side turnin took’s in aboot till e hooses. Ere wis a widden byeurd on a gale, wi e name o e hut, Shallenalm. E first biggin we keekit intill wis e byre. Faar I'd been eest tae cassied staas at hame, here ey hid widden planks anaith e kye, an a widden passage an a widden greep, an nae trevises. An ere wis a richt supersteetious thing on a e couple jist inside e byre door - five crosses made o twigs, three o them wi three cross pieces an twa wi een, an twa sprays o catkins wi e heids still on, likely fae Palm Sunday. Ere wis a lad inside, throwe a door ben fae e byre, an he spak till's, bit e left's in a meenit tae wash eez hans in e caal rinnin watter o an ootside troch. E troch hid a lid an a lock, an little winner, for e lad keepit bottles o beer in't.

At e side o e byre, biggit as pairt o't, wis e pigs' hoose, wi three trochs ye cd full fae e ootside. Een o em hid some wattery fye in't. Ower e close wis e dwallin hoose, its door at e heid o some steps, an aa prinkit up wi flooers in full bloom, geraniums an sic like. Watterin man a been a steady job, bad enyeuch fin e flooers wis aboot e hoose, bit waar fin ey were in e windaes o a pigs' hoose ir a byre, as I'd noticet at some o e fairms in e hills abeen Langenwang. At's fairly gildin e lily. Bit it wis jist e hooses at got e attintion at e Alpine huts.

Ye cd get refreshments ere an at's fit we'd stoppit for. Jist afore we cam, e lady o e hoose, complete wi a lang blue overall, hid been kirnin butter, an it wis near ready. She wis washin't wi caal watter oot o e plastic yalla pipe at fed e troch. Er churn wis a rotary een, nae roon like oor's hid been, bit squaarish in shape, wi fower paiddles wi holes in em, turnt be an iron crank.

Weel, naething for't bit we'd aa tae hae a glaiss o butter-milk, an boy it wis cool an richt fine. Fit tae ait wis e neesht question. Oh, we'd try a Butterbrot, a shafe o breid an butter, an it cam spread wi fresh-made butter, jist a richt deep clairt o’t, at wad a deen three or fower normal pieces. I happent tae speer if ey made cheese.

'Na, ey widna',

said ma freens, bit I speert at e wifie as she chancet tae come by, an aye she did.

'Wid ye like some?'

I wid, so I'd anither slice o breid. es time wi cheese, a gweed fang o’t, as weel’s butter.

‘Div ye use a press?’

Na, she didna, bit jist hung up e crudes in a cloot, e same’s e hangies we made at hame, bit on a bigger scale. Haein five kye, she hid plinty o raa materials. E Käsebrot wisna bad at aa, an geed's a gweed foon for steppin on e road, an it wis ay uphill.

Noo e track wis a bittie braider, an e surface harder. Faariver ye lookit at it, ere wis jist a steady meevement o black ants, aa sizes. I widna a likit sittin doon amon em. Ey fairly took e attintion o e young lass. Young fowk his gleg e'en, an it must a been e same for masel eence, for a ear ir twa back I hid a queer kinna dream, een o yon kin at jist comes at ye wi nae clear rhyme ir reason, bit it bade in ma heid aifter, so it man a struck's as something speecial. Jist as sharp as onything I saa masel as a smaa bairn lyin amon girse, ma heid rale close till e grun, an seein e little linies an hairies rinnin up an doon e blades, an some still wi a drap o dyow at eir heids. E yird at e reets wis fresh an crummochie. Ye cd see faar e little craiters at bide in e grun wis wirkin at it steady, shiftin little lumpies an steenies as ey craalt an foraget aboot. Es man a been aboot e time I wis a bairn, gey smaa, I doot nae even walkin. I doot ere'd been a pooer o concentration in at teet intill e world o girse an yird an beasties for me tae min’t sae lang, ir maybe nae richt minin till it cam oot in ma dream. Maybe it wis some e same wi Sarah.

E ither thing at took er attintion wis e butterflees. Ey were jist awye - fite eens, broon eens, speckled eens, an a lot o dark colourt eens wi deep reed wing-edges, aa makkin e maist o e rowth o flooers. On anither day I'd seen an aafa lot o es dark eens in a wid aside Krieglach, aften clusterin in smaa cloodies on an roon fit I took tae be deer's drappins on e road, e same’s ere wis a great attraction for em in at. As ye walkit ben e widlan trackie, ey fluffert up, an ye wis tae lift yer haan tae fen em aff yer face. Onywye, ere wis dizzens, hunners, o butterflees, an e lass wis fair charmed.

We followt e trail, ay risin, till we come till a secont Alpine pasture, fit ey caad an AIm. As we come close till anither hut, we passed on e road a lot o cattle, lyin amon e girse o e roadside, chaain eir cweed, an lettin ye – or a lot o em did – rub yer niv on eir braid foreheids. Douce kinna beasts, weel eest tae bein hannlet, an ilky een in graan order. We’d aiten enyeuch, sae we didna need mair'n a drink at es hut, tae coonter e heat, an it hid a handy ootside convenience tee, een o e timmer sentry-box variety wi a widden seat. It wis poshed up a bittie, for e fowk hid covert e openin wi a widden lid. Ere wis a gweed smarrach o geets aboot e place, aa playin fine on a rug ootside, lettin emsels roll doon e slope an scraichin an lachin, an Sarah, I cd see, wintin tae jine in.

E bairns wis shoutit in for eir denner. We bade ootside, an maybe wi bein a thochtie tired wi aa es walkin in e sin, e newsin startit tae flag. Forbye, Sarah'd been offered a moofae o soup wi e lave o e bairns. Sae we sat quairt. Een o e maist winnerfae things aboot es hills is e amoont o flooers an grasses, bluebells e same's we hae at hame rale common tee, an kins I'd niver seen. Bit aa gied hairbourage an hoosin tae wee craiters, maybe millions o em, some makkin nae soon ye cd hear, like e butterflees, bit e feck o e idders aye biz-bizzin. Heicher in e air ye got e croak o a mountain craa an e chuck-chuck o a wee bird wi a roosty tail, and files sailin ower aa wis a great bird circlin wi wide oostretched wings, makkin miaowin noises like a cat. Fin ere's nae win, an e day's a scorcher, an naebody's spikkin, ye hear es tremendous orchestra an ere's jist naething ye can think o tae compare wi’t. It's e soon o naiter ersel, maybe gaan deeper intae ye than ony made meesic, ir even e soon o kirk bells, for ey gang wi baith gweed news an ill, bit is biz-bizzin jist exists. Aften enyeuch ye canna hear't for ere's ither soons near at haan, ither things takkin up yer attintion. Es fowk at drives motorwyes throwe gweed countryside, niver min foo muckle laanscapin ey dee, canna stop e wheeshin o tyres an e bum o ingines, an ey dinna think aboot e ill ey're deein tae sic meesic. Ye can niver hear't again, nae ere.

It taks a speecial place an a speecial day tae hear't nooadays. I heard it on e Veitsch an I'll ay min on eir steep grazins, jist as anither time, lang seen, I heard e same meesic in a peat bog.

I’ve ay likit peat bogs, I wis ay get tin rows for leavin e car an walkin stracht throwe em fin we wis oot for a run. Bit es een wis something speecial. It wis Crombie Moss. nae far fae e Knock Hill, an I geed wi Will, a retired smith at ay ceest eez peat ere. It wisna jist e normal bog, bit een at hid grown in e bed o fit wid a been a loch, likely in time fin fowk wis harly even thocht aboot, an full o leafy plants. It lay in a kinna basin, an ye could see e compaction o e leafy layers in e peats emsels as ey were cast.

Will hid wirkit es moss for ears. E kin o e peat affeckit e kin o e tools e hid tae use. Seein e layerin wis sae ticht, ye hid tae cut e peat in fae e face wi a breist spaad. Ay wye e peats wis stratifeet across eir biggest breidth, sae they werena sae ill for faain apairt fin ey were set up for dryin.

It's a great place, e Crombie Moss. If ye stan at e side an tak a sichtin across e peat cuttins, syne mizher e depth o e faces fae e side till e middle, ye can see it must a been mair’n twinty five feet deep at e centre, bit e hale loch jist got claggit up an stagnatet an at lang last turnt tae peat. Gweed burnin stuff, tee.

Will, wirkin at e fit o een o e faces, hid e peat barra aside im. Some peat mosses is at saft at ye canna hae legs on yer barra, for ey wid a sunk in, bit Will's barra hid rale braid legs. Eence e'd cleared e tap girsy layer, Will vrocht fae e tap doon, an seein e blade hid a feather at richt angles, it cut twa sides o e block o peat at a time. As ilky block wis cast, e geed a half turn an let it aff ontill e barra, e heck at e front keppin’t fae gettin scuttert wi e wheel. Fin it wis loadit – an weet peat’s nae licht - e rowed it ower till a drier lair an set e peats oot tae dry.

It jist happent on es day I wis ere at e wis at a face gey near e boddem o e aal loch. Ye cd easy see e shapes o leafs an wee bits o branchies, aa broon an weet bit a weel keepit ye cd a identifeet e kins o e plants if ye'd been onything o an expert, bit I'm nae. It wis maist divertin tae see e fairlies in e peat, as Will ceest awa in a steady rhythm o in, oot, half turn, tip e spaad, swing back, in again. Bit I will admit it wis a maitter o doonricht fascination fin e spaad startit tae turn up peats wi e goldie yalla o fit mith a been bog-bean seeds in em, sometimes in groupies o twa ir three. Ey jist glowed in e sin for a meenitie, e same's ey'd deen Gweed kens foo mony thoosans an thoosans o ears seen. I took a closer look. Ilky een hid a wee holie in e side, ey were aa teem, nae chance o germinatin, though fit wi Jurassic Park ere’s nae kennin fit es scientist buddies mithna think o nooadays. Fit wis hairtbrakkin wis tae see e brichtness, e goldie-yalla o life at hid been, turnin broon an din jist in an instant, as e licht an e air connacht it, killt it for a secont time. Bit e meenit o veesion wis ere aa e same. Will, iv coorse, hid seen't aa afore.

Sae e day wore on, an e fresh air wark an e hait sin on yer shooders geed ye an appetite.

‘Piece time', said Will.

E must a been haiter'n me, for e'd waldies on eez feet, galluses haadin up breeks an draaers egither, an a sark an seemit, though he did cast eez gunzey. E used it tae sit on, pickin a hummocky o girse on a bank in e shade o a smaa tree. We sat ere, aitin wir fite loaf sanwiches an drinkin tae, comtemplatin wark deen an wark tae dee, nae sayin a lot, jist hearkin till e quairt o e moss, weel sheltert fae ootside soons. At’s fin I startit tae tak note - weel, I didna, it wis naething conscious, it wis jist as if yer min opent - o e flees an e beetles an e bummers an e butterflees on e daisies an e buttercups an e stalkies a girse an sedge an on e rashes, wi a fyow smaa birdies here an ere. An wi at I heard richt, for e first time I wis awaar o, es biz-bizzin I'd heard again in Aastrian Alps.

I’ve listent for't a lot, since at day in e peat moss wi Will. Bit it’s been ower weet, or e win wis ower strong, or ma heid wis full o deevin thochts at widna let me be. Onywye, ye dinna forget it. An e billies at geed aboot fin e moss wis a loch, lang afore byeuks an paper wis kent o, werena they richt lucky tae hae e chance o sic meesic ilky day?

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Information about Document 544

Craiters: 20 - Biz-Bizzin


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1994
Word count 3297

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Tuckwell Press
Publication year 1995
Place of publication East Linton
ISBN/ISSN 1898410739
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in Craiters. Or Twenty Buchan Tales

Text setting

Other Putting the dialect on record, Aberdeenshire

Text type

Prose: fiction
Prose: nonfiction
Short story


Author details

Author id 27
Forenames Alexander
Surname Fenton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Academic/Writer/Editor
Place of birth Shotts
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Father's place of birth Aberdeen
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife\Crofter
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes At home and wherever possible