It goes without saying that this is not really my wind farm! However, in the sense that this wind farm is quite close to me and represents something to me, it is mine. I went there twice in two days to make photographs; it was January, the snow had almost completely gone, but it was bitterly cold on both days. On the second day I was there for dawn, and experienced the most fantastic fog that shrouded everything in a velvet blanket for several hours until the little sunlight there was had burnt it off. This only added to the magic!
Dun Law is a wind farm that straddles one of the roads that leads to my current home city of Edinburgh from the south, the A68. For several years now, these wind turbines have communicated something very basic to me, and that is home. When travelling from the south, seeing these structures on either side of the road, standing there as giant silent sentries guarding the passage north, I know that I am not that far away from home. No matter how tired I might be after a long journey, they energise me sufficiently to keep driving in the knowledge that I no longer have far to go. They are welcoming windmills that connect to childhood memories of travelling, as I described in the Introduction.
Of course, they are not silent. When standing close by they make a sound, but from the road, driving along, there is no sound from the turbines. They simply stand there, motionless apart from the blades turning in the wind, looking out over the road from both sides.
Of course, even aside from the blades, they are not motionless either, though they do not move about on the ground. This will become apparent in a forthcoming chapter.
Strangely enough, considering the comments I made in the Introduction, for me, until I went to photograph them, these turbines had no connection to what it is that they make: electricity, which is why I thought of them as windmills, rather than wind turbines. Their role as guardians, sentries, watchers, took away from their function as producers of… well, anything, never mind electricity.
Given my emotional connection to Dun Law, it seemed only appropriate that it should be the first wind farm I visited. In reflecting on how I saw the turbines, I wanted to make sure that for myself, at least, I would find a way to photograph the connection to electricity generation. This, after all, is their function, even though my emotional connection to them was about movement, travel, and homecoming.
To my astonishment, I saw that all the way along the eastern side of Dun Law West wind farm there were pylons and cables. I have no idea if these are carrying electricity generated at Dun Law (I suspect not), but I am sure they have long been there – and yet for all the times I had driven along the A68, I had never noticed them. These massive steel structures with their thick dark wires stretching out over the hills like the strands of a huge spider’s web criss-crossing the country according to maps and diagrams of which I know nothing… I had never noticed them. They had faded into the background, even though they are in the foreground when seen from the road – the only perspective I had ever had on this wind farm before walking amongst the turbines in January.
And so I end this first chapter asking myself questions: what made me see the turbines (as windmills…!) but not the pylons? What made me see the turning blades, but not the thick wires? Is it that the ubiquity of pylons and cabling helps me to ignore them, whereas wind turbines in wind farms are still a more unusual sight? I know that many people object to pylons too (eg Highlands before Pylons), but in general wind farms appear to generate even more vociferous objections. Perhaps I will begin to find some answers to these and other questions in the coming chapters.