monday on the wild side
The island had temporarily eclipsed our sliding to da simmerdim (mid-summer) with gales, plummeting temperatures and freak showers… But then again, our world is resilient and it was with a certain delight a day out on the Westside of the island led us to many magical encounters. What a way to begin a brand new week!
our world full of birds oystercatcher, redshank, lapwing, meadow pipit… Adult and young in a world filled with blue.
Arcania is teeming with life, as we wandered towards the edge of the west side. The more west we wandered, the more we found life on our way…
We met with Mark and shared a moment in the sun. My eyes riveted to the blue on either side of the horizon, and spoke of wild flowers encountered alongside embankments… marsh marigold, common butterwort, cuckoo flower…. A myriad of colours to welcome mid-summer in this nordic lushness.
And then, as we made our way back towards the 60th Parallel, I stopped and marveled at the evening sun beaming though leaves of a few trees – back-lit moment here, in our world. Time stopped as blackbirds filled silence with their song. What a grand way to end Monday!
on the edge of my world full of birds
The very first thing you notice when you approach the summit of a headland (well, apart from the salt from the ocean carried by relentless wind gusts!) is that sudden cacophony; a bit like the Royal Albert Hall, or le Palais Garnier, in surround sound! High pitched, non-stop, storytelling in a multitude of avian languages!
To live on the edge of the North Atlantic, common guillemots (once called “petits pingouins” by French explorers on their voyage to Canada in the time of Jacques Cartier) find nesting safety in numbers on stacks. The chocolate colour member of the auk family – a cousin to the more maverick razorbill and the ever so clumsy looking puffin – returns to those rocky pinnacles to lay an egg even without bothering building a nest. The conical shape of the bluish stained egg somewhat prevents (or limits) a fall in the ocean…
To stand at the very top of the headland allows you to converse with feathers and exchange glances at close range.
That’s exactly what I did today with a few avian friends. “Johnathan” – not Seagull! – …Seagulls do NOT exist! “My Johnathan” happens to be the very affectionate name I once gave to fulmars, (the miniature version and very distant relative of the Southern Hemisphere based albatross) as I began to make my acquaintance with them on a more professional basis when wardening on and around this “belfry”, Sumburgh Head, now some nine years ago. I came to appreciate a world as real as it could be, not that bubble we, humans, have built around ourselves. A very raw, somewhat “harsh”, “tough” world in which the very concept of natural evolution as well as Darwinian concept of “survival of the fittest”… Here, you really witness life and death as it happens live.
Prey and predator live side by side, as wanted by nature to regulate itself. Many folk perceive predators, such as bonxies (aka great skua, as pictured on the right) as a pest… What those same folk forget to understand (or ignore) is that they have a very disctinctive function around bird colonies: they clean them of sick/injured birds, hence preventing epidemics on cliffs… Every creature has a function on Earth, otherwise, it simply does NOT exist.
The island has already begun to display a palette of colours all around. Now with June approaching, thrift (or sea pinks) have added to the myriad of petals around the headland, as well as on road verges and in ditches. The island is shining in sheer splendour. Walking around the edge of my world full of birds never ceases to amaze the eye and heart. Night has turned blue. The wind may still rage outside my window as I type, however,
how I love my Nordic shore windswept in the north Atlantic!
Beltane done and dusted, now we are sliding to summer. Temperature do not appear to go higher, and yet, blue now stretches well beyond nine (p.m. GMT). Cloudscapes fashion in exquisite shapes without shame… The other night, I saw two hounds above my head playing in blue. Aerial dream, as blackbird began to share its elaborate recital. Summer has come to the island.
The more I look to ground level, the more colours and signs of life meet the iris. It’s like a hymn or an anthem the world wishes to share with us. Explosive red of the campion – intimate bath of a skylark… And when plovers act as vigils, we know nesting is taking place.
That plethora of wild flowers begin to show: campion, sea pinks, kidney vetch, bird’s foot trefoil, cuckoo flower… Spring squill, marsh marigold, primrose and common mouse ear to name a few. I think Van Gogh would have loved my boreal meadows after Beltane. The light may not be Provençal, however, colours dare to explode in cool blue!
Catching my shore in summer light remains a gift and priviledge.
And when I look in the garden, my avian friends shine among daisies and bluebells, as they delight my Saturday morning!
There is no rest inside the real world, since life demands precious moments to be counted inside world clocks…
Now tell that to the universe!
…Even dandelions go grey and disperse ashes like remnants of a Phoenix…
I love my local library.
It is home to countless treasures: pages, poets, poetry nights, number of smiles beyond all words.
Our librarians are devoted to share the power of the print, recorded voice or fiddler’s bid and endeavour to devour miles across islands to reach out to communities separated by roaring tides.
As a poet, such devotion goes well beyond might of the pen!
So, here and there, we come to gather and air pages or a song… Inside the walls of Ringan’s Church at the Hillhead, we are blessed by such dynamic team! Our librarians have a passion to share might of the spoken word and provides writings with a home, where we belong in all seasons…
Last Saturday was Open Mic’ – three minutes of pleasure per poet or participating reader.
Thank you, Fiona, for such evening – thank you, dear Shetland Library, for harbouring so many treasures and a home! Shetland Library
In this cycle of creation, poetry nights feel de rigueur.
walk to edge of a volcano
I love Northmavine. It’s wild, rugged, shaped by fire, time and tempests… Timed in granite, basalt and salt.
A trip to the Eshaness Peninsula, NW of the island, feels like a reunion with your true self. To stand to the edge of the cliffs, without fear of staring at the world with your heart wide open, reinstates your humility.
Eshaness is a magic place. There is no other word for it. It holds many secrets, dormant inside the many crystals molten rocks once solidified by a mystic jewel designer… On Beltane Eve (30 April), we came and found more than we thought.
We’ve always known of da peerie folk who roam at night and snatch fiddlers for reveling inside their homes deep inside earth… The miniature cast of the much more famous Scandinavian trolls, trows, as they’re known, only bring mischief around roads, crofts and our world. However, those supernatural creatures have their own Achilles heel: sunlight petrifies them at once and the faintest ray from our star turns them into rock… Now, I wonder.
Would you meet one in broad daylight… Freshly petrified… In full Viking dress?
Trows are not known to bear arms of any kind; let alone guise like a Viking.
…Or could a Norwegian cousin appear and join in merriment and forget fate just after dawn?
The plot thickens among the rocks!
Northmavine, Eshaness, Stenness, land of magic & mystery!
…And on the very first of May, Beltane was spent among flowers!
...well away from da peerie folk!