Monthly Archives: January 2010

Captain Nemo’s Still My Hero

Every school ride on our blue bus lets me wander out of its cage. It is a time of adventure! The thirty minute journey from Stove, (my part of Sandwick) to the Knab, (this promontary at the South Mouth of Lerwick Harbour, where the Anderson High School has been standing since 1862) enables us to wake up, day dream or admire the breathtaking coastline from the comfort of wide windows. Whereas such bus is full of life, and by this I refer to the constant teenage joie de vivre, I must confess my iPod friend offers more than music. When I am not meandering around L’Esprit Nomade in print, I delve back into the depth of 20000 Lieues Sous Les Mers (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) straight from this electronic device. Monsieur Verne would definitely smile…

This window of freedom allows my heart to re-connect with the world.

When I don’t turn our bus into the Nautilus, I follow the earth in motion: jig of our sea, flight of our gulls, ravens and geese between roadside and horizon; marvel at the rising sun over Mousa Isle – and believe me, it’s a real cracker in winter! ...Draw the contour of every hill with my finger inside my head. Of course, and in another world (I am not using “ideal” here very consciously) I would favour walking it all… Yet if I could do this, school days might even shrink further, or I’d need headlight gear to go back home.

How I envy Captain Nemo. 
He’s a pirate and role model at the same time! Now imagine if we too could really free ourselves from this artificial world. By artificial, I understand this money-driven world bubble in which we are kept in line… That of bankers, lawyers, politicians; simulacra of “established democracies” in which the very concept called culture has so little space. Interestingly enough, a friend made me aware of the Zeitgeist Mouvement as well as The Venus Project today. Our world is in search of answers. And if Kenneth White’s Geopoetics Movement invites us to step outside the motorways of western thinking and walk the shore, hence reconnecting with the “real” world, Peter Joseph and Jacques Fresco both denounce this very artificial world. Furthermore, Fresco is one of those few 21st Century Verne: a futurist, visionary with down-to-earth arguments.
All three well worthy a google…

Oh, by the way, ice still prevails on 60N – the school’s shut to pupils tomorrow.


Filed under geopoetics, project, shetland, white, world

Island Hopping Day

Today was “Island Hopping Day” – a golden opportunity to re-unite and share slices of life with loved ones.
Isle of Burra, my ultimate destination.
Burra, (ON, “heath” )
It lies west off Trondra Isle and both are linked to one another and to the Mainland by narrow bridges, allowing you to “hop” without difficulty.

Love Burra.
And when you stand at Hamnavoe,

It’s looking west, always westwards, towards Quebec, 
waves & sunsets unparalleled;

it is sheltered by a headland 
called Fugla Ness,  
that tongue of land with its lighthouse –
 and when you walk it in summer,
you value your place in the world… 
it makes hearts swing
inside rockpools,
it gets you out of no man’s land; 
 it has a hearth you share with those who do not fear the Atlantic.

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Filed under earth, island, shetland

my favourite edge of the world: St Ninian Sands, 17 Jan 2010


Filed under earth, ninian, shetland, shore

Aeolus & Johnathan

...From whiteness to the King of Four Winds. Sometimes it feels only one step away! Aeolus plays among us.

Today have spent most of my day listening to the wind whilst delving into the world of the Albatross, great nomadic spirit as well as in Montesquieu’s Les Lettres Persanes. What a fantastic journey!

My favourite local seabird is a very distant relative of the great wanderer and has only recently colonised the archipelago – its arrival being first noticed in the late 19th century on Foula. Nowadays its kind has spread westwards  and I was told it even reached the cliffledges on St Kilda! Unlike the albatross, it can be found flying & breeding in both hemispheres… On my length of the shore, I never fail to admire its agility in taming the eddies, [the air currents around our cliffs, taings and headlands] and love it as a loyal companion. To me, it seems to fly for fun… 

Its scientific name: Fulmarus glacialis,
its common [english/french] name: Fulmar,
its Shetlan name: Maalie
I call him “Johnathan”.

I look at him as Aeolus’ best friend in all seasons around our shores. 

I also enjoy his loyalty on the deck of the boat as we trek between harbours… He’s always there, gliding in the arms of the King of Four Winds. And when you park at Sumburgh Head (or any other coastal viewpoints), he will come and check you out at close quarter. 
…And if you dare and brave its territory & venture beyond the invisible boundary of its nest during the breeding season, he will gladly regurgitate the fishy content of his stomach on your most expansive jacket! Many intrepid visitors to the sphere of his world may testify…

To my humble spirit, Johnathan is the King of Headlands! 

Noo dan, I’d be curious to know its local name where you live :))

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Filed under earth, seabird, shetland, wind

blue ice

Just as we think Winter Spirits might jinx our world…
 Our garden’s view before sunset.

Glorious blueness, as ice retreats – or is it just an illusion? This sun captured shortly after lunchtime can’t go higher. Except for our celestial clock, comets & stars invisible… 

Too weak to melt ice in one day, it will not trick me out for long! I still feel grounded inside walls and devote time to feed my heart with others’ words, spoken or sung; revive embers inside the hearth and watch our sky turning purple.  

A few days ago, I contemplated devising a sleep calendar to celebrate  that much sought after return of the spring equinox. Not that I hate winter… Let’s just say I like ice in a wee dram [none in whisky though, as I favour it straight… Just with]  Bénédictine, Fécamp’s “water of life”, from time to time! Walking to my nearest bus stop in-between dawn & the sunrise feels like stepping onto rice crispies at the moment! Thank goodness, our sunrises and sunsets have been rather spectacular. …If only I could ask the school bus driver to stop for a photo… Our local land and seascapes just look glorious from the main road! But by the time we reach Sandwick, dusk overrides blue afternoons… Bah, c’est la vie!

And talking of Fécamp, this delightful seaside resort on the Norman coast, where my maternal great grand mother once gutted herring for a living (or should I say as a means for survival), the following piece celebrates the connection with my “chosen home”. Initially written in French, as a tribute to my ancestor, I translated it for the English speaking world. Originally entitled Les Mains, its “anglo-saxon sibling”, My Great Garnd Mother’s Hands, found its homepage within the New Shetlander a few years ago.
My Great Grand Mother’s Hands
Mother prunes vine,
grand mother knits –
there in my soul I’m still feeling
my great grand mother’s hands.
Time ties strong bones around bollards.
No more Terre-Neuvas, sixareens…
Fécamp or Baltasound,
barrels belong to celluloid,
filed, filleted,
microcosm on microfiche
like a treasure
in B&W.
That woman gutting fish
looks like my ancestor:
head-dressed in a white scarf,
Benedictine sister –
their knives so feverish
on the shore of both lands,
Norman or Shetlandic…
Silver nitrate turned to yellow,
eyes on postcard revive
one tale of the hareng*.

Poet’s note: hareng = herring.

© Nat Hall 2006

Talk of nomadic spirit…

And since tomorrow is unborn, I shan’t worry about black or blue ice outside the front door of my home…


Filed under home, poetry, shetland, world


Today the ice began to melt.
My field of view regains colours, as hills reveal patches of brown and our garden, its green grass blades.  A truce with our winter spirits…
More is to come or so I’m told. Our pale blue sky turns pink again as we turn our back from the sun.  And as we delve back into night, I will spin the planet once more and skydive through southern garden.
The following poem, as published in The Battered Suitcase [2008], just does that.
Am not afraid of outer space.
I trudge through ice whilst you’re dreaming behind curtains.
Let’s join our minds and bridge our worlds.
Was it morning or just twilight?
I retraced steps after high tides, crystallised us in last snowflakes;
walked to the edge of our garden, where each wave meets & melts our sun…
Mes pas, tes pas dans les nuages.
If I could slide like a spider across oceans,
I’d weave my way where you belong – find a corner inside your song,
hang all my dreams on meridians, watch your moonrise at earth level.
There, above black, twinning my heart with latitudes;
echoing sounds I sometimes hear in clement sky,
and feel your hands in arpeggios…
I ken du’s here,
I heard the wind calling your name.
Poet’s notes:
« I ken du’s here » = I know you’re here
 “mes pas, tes pas dans les nuages…” = “your and my steps among our clouds”
Earth Walk © Nat Hall 2008


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Night Walk

Three images to celebrate that moment adrift in time, like a rite of passage between day and night as we stand still in our homeworld. IceWorld, the last of 2009, NightWalk & FlashMoon, that great trek towards dawn.
I like this grand motorway of clouds flying at speed through the aperture of the lens…
It reminds me that in stillness, we still travel inside a greater universe.


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