Since last year, you've had a merciful break from these chunterings. I hope your patience won't be tried too far by this resumption for 2021.
You lovely Montrose parkrunners are never far from my mind. Last week, on my daily walk, battling against wintry north east gales, I found a new sympathy for you. I had a vivid sense of a winter Saturday morning, when you're turning north into the prevailing wind, on that long concrete stretch from the first marshal station.
But, not withstanding winter, gales and, even, a drop of Bryony rain, wouldn't we all sprint at the chance, this February Saturday, to be getting together again, to re-start parkrun? Covid has taken almost a year, but now there's the gentlest glimmer of hope that it won't inflict two years of (not)parkrun on us.
Optimism for the future can be boosted by being thankful for what we have in the present. It's cheering to see how many folk have kept morale and motivation going by running and walking a regular (not)parkrun 5k. Some still use the familiar Broomfield route on occasions. It's good to have reassurance that the course survives, more or less intact, not built-upon, nor yet overwhelmed by the North Sea.
This week a Rosehill Road neighbour couldn't wait to tell me he's completed 89 (not)parkruns since Lockdown. That number may well have been exceeded by another couple of parkrun friends, who often call at my door (to check I'm still alive). And nephew, Jeremy, proudly used the website to post his (not)parkrun century from the Cayman Islands. Montrose is surely a unique parkrun location, with such a committed participant, staying in touch, from thousands of miles away. Jeremy's (not)100 stirs my sympathy for parkrunners, who, since Lockdown, are poised at 99, patiently awaiting their "real" 100.
Always, I remain grateful for Broomfield and the Links at my front door. The regular walk perks up flagging morale. Until the most recent winter blast, it has been a mile a day. Through the snow, on two sticks instead of one, half a mile was enough. With the thaw, what blessed relief to see and feel the grass underfoot again.
The Curlie pond is like a daily box-set. As we've hurtled through January, into February, every day, if not quite a drama, presents something to report. Early on, the swan couple flew in, only for reconnaissance, I thought. But they've stayed, which promises another clutch of cygnets for May. The mallard ducks have become progressively noisier and are starting to pair off already.
Even seagulls can have a problem child. One of last year's young has never left the Curlie, and continues to stalk the adults with its pathetic bleating. Last summer, the mother of that youngster was fierce in its defence, warning me off more than once. Now, months on, she can't wait to be rid of the brat.
Then there's the great Curlie mystery. Neatly-dug holes began to appear on the banks of the pond, the turf precisely cut. There were nearly twenty on the east bank and a few on the west. No activity was spotted, and Parks and Gardens were not responsible. A family enquiry on Montrose Memories produced answers, some interesting, some crazy or witty. The evidence is still there for you to see. With no conclusive verdict, the best explanation was the work of a metal detectorist. Certainly not moles in the holes.
Lockdown use of the Curlie playpark has increased the litter problem. My daily pick up of rubbish had an amusing sequel. Unknown to me, Facebook had a protest about this poor “elderly man” having to pick up younger folk's careless litter. I suspect that when parkrun resumes, our expert litter-pickers, who always did a good job, will need a spring clean of the route.
One large piece of litter, discarded, inevitably, in the pond, was an Aldi shopping trolley. Rescued by my nephew, it sheltered in my front garden for a couple of nights. Finding a phone number to arrange its collection by the store proved fruitless. Eventually, a friend (an occasional parkruuner) transported it in his car.
Parkrunner, Anthony Baxter, is my nephew who retrieved the Aldi trolley, Scavenging in the Curlie isn't his day-job - he's a film-maker. This month, his film about landscape artist, James Morrison, will be premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival, before screening on the BBC.
Until his death last year, James was a resident of Montrose. His paintings are known throughout the world, not least those of Angus and the Mearns. Many's the Saturday morning at parkrun, we marvel at the lovely light and shade of the ever-changing skies which are a feature of James Morrison's work. You'll enjoy Eye of the Storm, which will be available on www.glasgowfilm.org from 28 February.