Monthly Archives: February 2010

Last of February

I love this more and more precocious light.
Sunrise and sunset stretch like a celestial rubberband – yes, we’re sliding away from darkness! What a joy to wake up to a lightsome sky and today, on this final day of February, we have been blessed with nordic blue, that washed off colour in our eyes that fills your heart, inner spirit with energy and flawless joy. But now I try to harness my patience to reach  the Vernal equinox, in the hope that, until then,  winter will at last begin to losen its grip upon us…
February remains traditionally our coldest, harshest month of the year.
Although the North Atlantic Drift (the most northerly edge of the Gulf Stream) protects us from the kind of deep freeze our Scandivian neighbours have to endure on the continent, by now you are fully aware we are not spared with snow! Although we sometimes tend to forget we are part of a very natural world, the elements rule our islands. And until we accept this, we’re sometimes forced to a stand still, as the planet reminds us all… Dormant garden, hedgehogs still fast asleep, starlings feasting on rotten kelp, the world feels meagre to its dwellers.

As nordic sun gathers up strength, we nonetheless feel its increasing power again. To put on record this last day, I opted for a lunchtime walk around Stove. Although our roads have now been cleared, motor’s still stranded on thick ice on the driveway (!) Let’s be stoic about it all, walking doesn’t produce any carbon footprints and will be counting on my school bus on Tuesday!
My current Nordic blue world is very pleasing to the eye, however, I miss the shades of green around our land!
We must never forget we live in circles and light rotates with us in harmony.
The following piece reflects this final thought.
It is very much an earthly one which was well  received at the 2006 Shetland Book Festival in Lerwick.

Light Recordings
indigo blue,
interwoven sounds of curlews,
wrens & blackbirds – tap-dancing rain,        
            snippik drumming beyond midnight;                        
                        migrating shalders to Iceland.
boreal-blue, electric white,
sunsets too lazy in sea fog –
redshanks, peewits just won’t shut down;
                        waders return from Arctic.
     dim, honey-gold,   
            often tormented by the wind –
                        a million feathers on passage
                                    are hiding low in our heather;
                                                wild geese talk russian in their sleep…
                                                                        Early gales whistle their return.
metallic grey, blunt eerie dark,
sometimes draped to elude our eyes –
yellow, red, green,                                         
gift from the sun…                                                    
gangs of starlings gather to glow                                           
better on snow, black against white;
                        10 days of gale
                                    shortened by night
                                                deafen our souls.
Copyright © Nat Hall
Poet’s Note: “snippik”: a delightful Shetland breeding wader
 a.k.a the snipe.

With a little more on the Vernal Equinox


Filed under 60N, Arcania, celebration, e-Poemata, geopoetics, home, images, island, life, north, poetry, shetland, snow, spirit, winter, writing

World Song

One world, a kaleidoscope of voices, cultures.
…A few more thoughts on the topic.

 What is culture but the fabric of a community – the quintessance of being, belonging to the world? 

As part of a child’s education, learning one language is as important as being exposed to other cultures. Not only does the child gradually develops communications skills but he, she also learns to appreciate that cultural kaleidoscope of voices whilst appreciating his, her own.
 In my [geographically remote] part of the world, education integrates “global classroom” in an effort to enable young people to view the world beyond the physical boundaries of our isles. Last June, South Africa came to Shetland. What a fabulous opportunity for Shetlanders of all ages to be exposed and to mix with the Zulu culture through a common passion, that of music and dancing.

As part of one’s cultural baggage, learning about others tears prejudice, stereotypes, fears apart. Too few priviledged ones have such possibility still.

Youssou N’Dour is playing on my iTunes – talking drums, djembe drums, drums, rhythms of Africa’s West Coast, including his native Senegal, mixed with western instruments. His voice unites more than one community. My favourite opus of his is entitled Joko – the village. It begins with a very haunting tune, Wiri-Wiri, in which children’s voices (in the background) transport you straight away inside “the village”. Powerful.

I love Youssou’s musical world. He encompasses that blend: singing in Wollof, English and French…  And if he could perform in other languages, I  believe he would not hesitate to do so. He’s a world believer. Yama is another haunting song. You listen to the world – boys on a boat, rowing somewhere on the Atlantic…

Like wandering off a known shore and discovering others.
Through his artistic gift, Youssou educates, reaches out to both folk from his community as well as the rest of the world. 

Many other world artists scattered around the world have touched my heart. Furthermore and not too long ago, two artists decided to travel the world with basic recording equipment. They wanted to “record the world’s many voices”. The project was called One Giant Leap. Through a mixture of interviews revolving around universal themes (life, death, among many others) and songs performed by locals on the spot and selected western artists,  the project brings the world closer together in a very humane way.  World wisdom & culture celebrated without prejudice. What a breath of fresh air in a “boxed” world!

Encouraging such projects would liberate man’s mind from many concepts, such as nationalism, which, as already experienced through history, engulfs entire communities into short or long-term conflicts. If I was taught in (western) philosophy that man was a natural born killer, I do not believe that man is born to suffer. Accepting each other’s culture in this new millenium would indeed be deemed as a giant leap into celebrating one world. To this effect, the term biodiversity should not be restricted to the environment, hence to plants, animals whilst excluding mankind. After all, we very much belong to this ecological world.

What more?

Earlier on today, I received a lovely message in (what I believe to be) Portuguese. My humble knowledge of Spanish helped me surmount a linguistic barrier. Those friendly words both warmed my heart and reminded me how ecclectic the village is.

This music from the world remains universal.


Hear that pulsar.

I don’t mind us quiet at night.
We have our realms, hidden flowers to tend and touch.
We need that land, edge of our ridge where we define bits of our sky;
that’s when our moon lines up with sun.

Let me watch us with eyes wide shut.

I don’t mind us in rotation,
our shadows resting in silence, leaning against hands of our clocks,
like silhouettes that never fear to cross their paths –

that’s when we feel Earth in motion,

we, fireflies in outer space.

As we let light ignite present,
we hear comets whisper warm words,
unsung riddles sprinkled with dust,
like lullabies on silver shores;

that’s when water reaches my mind.

My Buddha ego on boulder,
I let the world sing its own song & dream awake here on sandstone –
capsules of now caught in cold rain, there, cracked open
on northern skin, as dynamic as dreams at dawn,

like kelpies off equinox tides.

I just mind us, serene, anchored, happy to catch stars with bare hands.

Northern Garden, 7 April 2008                       


Filed under geopoetics, poets, world

From "hellery" to heaven

Wow, the past 48 hours have been felt like a rollercoaster on this North Atlantic outpost!
Poet’s log –
Thursday 25 February 2010

All Shetland schools shut since Tuesday. Pupils & staff awaiting their fate for the day… Eyes riveted to my window: no pink sunrise – the whole of the sky, titanium grey, filled with snow. 
Hey, here’s a boannie Shetlan wird, a hellery or nightmarish weather, traditionally, horizontal rain… Not today though. Thursday would see horizontal snow from about 07:20 till late at night.
Utter “whiteout”! (It got so bad the Northern Constabulary ordered folk not to travel…) 
Thursday’s hellery, in a few shots:

With snow levels rising thoughout the day, I felt our growing  willow trees and composter would not give in to the arctic wind – well anchored in this sea of ice.

My NB based fellow maritimer & poet Donna Allard later confessed that we had more snow in Shetland than she had in Richibucto. …Unreal!

I called that day “white Thursday”.

whipped by the wind,
wiped out landmarks, traps in terrain…
whimsical world we watch

now we are free.

Heavenly world, Friday 26 February 2010

The light is back, the wind, asleep. Am listening to one of my alltime favourite albums, Aerial‘s Sky of Honey, by Kate Bush. Light peeps through the double curtains. It’s a good sign – sign that our world sparkles again thanks to a shameless nordic sun.  With a long weekend under way, I am in need of a wild walk after lunchtime. The air may sting my eyes and skin but I don’t care! …Remember that Finnish proverb about bad clothing. Yet first of all, I must not forget  our avian friends, dashing blackbird, wren and starlings. I have leftovers from last night – chick peas Provencal style… Their resilience to stay alive in such harsh conditions must not be taken for granted. I also soak old bread. They ken too well our friendship bond…
Here’s to Friday bathing in sun 🙂

…What a lovely afternoon, as Kate would sing so graciously. 

My winter cold triggers dry cough and walking around the southern edge of our village helps clearing out my throat :).
Clean and fresh air fill lungs and heart whilst sun warms my face. Magic moment.

…What better way to feel at one with our whole world?

As am walking back to the hearth, I hear Skydiver in my head… Its original poem, as published in Canada’s poetry magazine Poemata last year.

                With renewed thanks to Mr Morgan    
                for his phantoms.
    “We have increasingly become phantoms.
                        … To Jupiter to Hell and any place…”
                        I look at you from out of space,
I see great rifts, long mountain chains,
cyclonic eyes steamed up with rain,
white against blue.
I need to delve in that membrane
that protects you –
I might burn through your stratosphere,
my heart feels like a meteor.
Gravity retracts all my fears.
I look a spider in your sky –
I’m still looking for your garden,
stretch of heather you call Eden,
let me open my parachute.
                        It’s like a dream,
strangest of game –
I braved your shield to hear your song,
            I dared to dive,
                        I still have stardust on my suit.
© G2G 2008           



Filed under geopoetics, poetry, white, winter, world, writing


Have met some amazing constellations ever since I’ve started blogging.

Networking, sharing our respective patch and celebrate ONE world among the many voices who walk the shore and honour it.

My humble stone to this planetary edifice begins to shine thanks to you all, and two fellow creative minds in particular more recently,

Juliet Wilson at , with whom we share a friend, Elizabeth M Rimmer at

Whilst Juliet Wilison, alias Crafty Green Poet, just awarded a creative blogger award to, Elizabeth dedicated a space to showcase respective works.

 Nat the Nordicblackbird was light years away from imagining such rewards, especially at such early stage in blogging and she remains grateful and thank you for sharing your neck of the world with mine! 

Bloggers unite!!!

Thank you, merci 🙂


Filed under geopoetics, poets, world, writing


Boreal sunrise, gentleness from angels, like a message or a signal,

The light within me salutes the light within you

from the sky to the earth,
wrapping away our fears with gentle pastel hues. 
All is quiet on 60N.
Can’t be bothered counting crystals stuck on her quilt; Mother Earth wakes to a new dawn.
Chant du monde

Now Father Sky begins to blush as starlings gather on branches to listen to morning earth song…

In the distance our winter geese rise inside blue. 
They come in waves, just like the tide…

Feathered squadrons from far afield,
soon they’ll be landing at Brakefield, their faithful patch till our sun sets…

The light within me salutes the light within you. 

This slice of life was savoured on Tuesday 23 February.

I dedicate it to Stanley and Chris, who touched our life with so much love & gentleness, who now look at us from the sky.



Filed under 60N, Arcania, celebration, geopoetics, poetry, winter, world, writing

in blue and white

Today’s walk took me back to my favourite tongue of Sand, Ninian. I spend a lot of time walking the length (500m one way) of that sandbridge...
It provides me with serenity, a sense of home and  inner balance.

Today, that short drive away was full of adventures! As soon as you leave the “motorway” (A970, no passing places…) as I call it affectionatelyyour heart begins to beat like a talking drum.  
You enter an area of peatland called da Tivlicks – named after that homebake, tivlick, due to the rich dark brown colour of peats… In summer, there are still a few folk who cast the soil as fuel for winter. But today, da Tivliks were sugar iced.

A closer look at peat (turf, as it is known on the North American continent) in snow and it made me think of a chocolate truffle… Hmmm, I love tasting lanscapes!

Then Bigton Farm… The grand entrance to Ninian Sands… 
the rest is magic 🙂

to celebrate it all, wild geese flew past as if to salute the magic of this part of the world.

Ninian in the snow overwhelms your heart.

I felt very much like a child in a toy shop this afternoon! The world, our playground,  unfolds so much beautyIt is all around us.

Raw, a diamond.

Then, more wonderful sea scapes… Scousburgh Sands, Rerwick……. Places I share with visitors in summertime. They would feel equally bewildered by such spots at this time of year.

To me, this world sings out its symphony.

Majesty of north atlantic! 
This prompts me to a piece published in Northwords Now a few years ago.

A Tale of Two Harbours
You need to look at a compass,
each arrow points out to a sea;
through a fisheye,
an ocean –
a tongue of land
where we can read
a world of men,
fishers, crofters, navigators,
wave wanderers;
in search of life
on greener shores…
They swapped a sail
for a few oars,                                                                      
scout ravens flew out
to new cliffs;
they pulled their boats and kissed
the ground,
built a new home,
hope & beliefs.
we still dig in the sand,
unearth our past,
look through
the sea,
where mother
wind once blew their sail,
always westwards,
as if to flee.
© Nat Hall 2006


Filed under 60N, earth, geopoetics, shetland

Today’s overdose of blue

Although I haven’t checked Abby’s SHETLAND MY LOVE wonderblog since yesterday (hee-hee!), I too did not resist that overdose of blue to which we were exposed today.
If snow alternates with those wonderful shades of blueness, David and I packed up for an adventure around our neck of the heather … Hoswick, so close to us. 
Yes, I always use that catchphrase when guiding in summer – “magic Shetland!”… 60N indeed remains a magic latitude!
And never take it for granted. 
I still remember my first time, as a visitor.

Back in 1998, we pitched our 4-season mountain in Levenwick and I still treasure that early May morning marvelling at its white sandy beach and whispering, this feels just like Treasure Island! …The rest is history, however, tattoed on my heart forever. Our eagerness to live the dream propelled our will to leave the cityworld for good. Island life is priceless. Besides, I adhere to Kenneth White’s concept of being able to embrace an island in geopoetics. Interestingly, our archipelago offers a myriad of isles, islands and other big rocks! During a sabbatical from the classroom, I notably opted to work for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, hence blending my two passions: education & wildlife. For two seasons, I was priviledged to hop on several islands, enhancing my craft as an “upland” naturalist and sharing my love for the [natural] world with local pupils and visitors. I still remember walking the length of Fair Isle with Roy Dennis on a fine summer evening and ringing migrants with Derek Shaw… Or ringing Storm Petrels on Mousa with Dave Okill. …Pointing out orcas and other sea mammals to tourists & locals around The North Isles and Muckle Flugga on board Dunter II remains a lifetime gift. All in all, slices of life I shan’t forget… Yes, Kenneth is right and he too would LOVE to embrace Shetland the way I do!!!

Below and above is a selection of images I took this afternoon. Please note I have not over-saturated any colour… (Just toned down the final one for artistic licence).When the light reverberates on our world, it just shines this way!  As a photographer, I am obsessed with light and composition; as a poet, with the raw beauty of the land and its surrounding waterworld. Barren though never bleak, as the sun spends its lifetime playing with clouds! And since Shetland’s main(is)land looks like a chipolatta from space, we hardly dwell too long under semi-vertical or horizontal spells of rain. Clouds come and go, always hassled by the wind.
My heart is firmly anchored to this shore. Another meaning of north so close to my soul.
It might look cold to some of you, however, a Finnish proverb says: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing… How true!

..Right, better go and check out what Abby’s been up to today… 😉


Filed under 2010, 60N, geopoetics, shetland, world