Fun with the Impossible


wind farm 1


Yesterday D and I and A and his girlfriend drove out across the moors above Hamilton and East Kilbride, to visit the Whitelee Wind Farm. It was our last adventure here for a while, as tomorrow, hopefully, D and I move into our new place in Edinburgh.


In the moments before transition, I thought I’d share some photos of the windswept spike grass and bog cotton. Good air, if you are in need of some. Cast in harsh flat, but shifting light, so I’ve played with some of the contrast settings and filters on Pixlr. I think the picture below looks as if taken on the plains of the American Midwest rather than Central Scotland:


cotton field 2



cotton field


Bog cotton tufts feel like artificial silken rabbit tails. Unlike dandelion clocks, you cannot puff them into the wind. And unlike commerically-grown cotton, they cannot be used to make fabric, according to Wikipedia, though during World War One they were made into bandages, and they can apparently be used in candle wicks. Otherwise the bolls are too brittle to spin into thread. My dreams of an all bog cotton jumper will come to nothing. I have to be content with the scatter of lightness they add to the dun coloured landscape.


But I’m neglecting the wind turbines. I’d never seen them as close up before. And at a distance, I had no idea of the scale of these things.





The sound of the fibreglass blades is a menacing hum, like something from a war machine, rather than one built to store green energy.




The slicing arms are as long as an aeroplane’s wing, and come down at you from above in relentless cycles. And if you go up to the base, you will find a door leading to the off-limits interior of the turbine:




Like the entrance to a Soviet-era space capsule. No admittance! Danger of Death! I wonder what a post-apocalyptic society would make of these megastructures. Would they find them terrifying or beautiful?




Would they think they lead to underground societies preserving the rites of the old world, long lost to the surface? Questions I will try to think about for this next work, when I get the chance.


I will leave you with my favourite image, taken on the Polaroid on Impossible film. I think it manages to catch the sense of the scale as well as the beauty of both the wind turbine’s immense structure and the hope behind its construction. The inability we have to know that whether, in years into the future, our efforts to protect our planet will be looked on with sadness-tinged nostalgia or with fond pride.


polaroid 2



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6 responses to “Fun with the Impossible

  1. Fabulous photographs, Helen. Wind turbines are intriguing but they definitely have a dangerous side…
    Best wishes for your new space!

  2. I love this post, the dreamy pictures, your thoughts about our generation’s legacy in the future, the bog cotton jumper… Thanks for taking us on such a nice walk through Central Scotland, and good luck to you and Edinburgh! Tell us all about it soon.

  3. “efforts to protect our planet will be looked on with sadness-tinged nostalgia” – they won’t be. If efforts to protect our planet fail, the post-dieoff remnants of technological civilization will forget what wind-turbines were and what they were for. They’ll just be seen as incomprehensible remnants of the past. If the efforts succeed, the wind turbines will be recycled for scrap and at that point, civilization will be powered by fusion or powersats. Or perhaps by more efficient wind-based technologies.

    • Well – you left off the hypothetical aspect to my little thought, which changes things slightly. And skipped the part earlier where I wondered if future peoples would be terrified – of the strangeness of the relics of our technology. And the nostalgia would be applicable to the successful scenario, where we have moved on to develop better, more efficient versions of wind turbines. So I think we are pretty much in agreement, after all!

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