If I Had a Million Dollars…

I’d have about £600,000, but I digress. Today I’ve been speculating about what I’d do if I had large sums at my disposal. Not because I do, but because I was enjoying my daily walk in Pittencrieff Park and, as I often do, hopped onto a train of thought.

Autumn light in Pittencrief Park.
Autumn light in Pittencrief Park.

The story goes that Pittencrieff was a private park when Andrew Carnegie lived in Dunfermline as a child. His childhood home is a stone’s throw from the park, which he was barred from entering. In 1902, now a prosperous businessman and philanthropist, Carnegie bought the park, and the following year gifted it to the people of Dunfermline.

As a transplant from the countryside I’m familiar with battles over enclosure and rights of way, so I have some idea how it must have felt to know that all that natural beauty was so close and yet so unreachable. I therefore thoroughly enjoy the notion of Carnegie thumbing his nose at the local grandees and letting the riffraff in.

Over 100 years later I’m still enjoying the benefits of his gift – a place to get away from cars and paving stones, to sit and people watch among the trees and greenery, to walk by the stream and clear my head. I’m reminded of the Greek proverb:

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

And so I wonder what seed or sapling I can plant that will one day give shade to others, even if I never do get that £600,000.