Monthly Archives: August 2011

bound by one world

below leaves and petals

Today I woke to dancing rain.
I took my time to stretch my limbs. Against the pane of my window, that incessant knocking of drops and devil wind. The hut felt cool at ten o’clock. Tystie the cat shared body warmth on patchwork quilt. On my last Saturday of freedom, I would not rush hands from the clock. 

strange summer

Funny as we need to accept chaos. 
Here, in my world, where life bows to whims of the wind, I take full advantage of light days. Yesterday belonged to the sun. The island looks industrious.  Meadows still dazzle with colours. Scabius, autumn hawkbit and buttercup…. Bog asphodel, eyebright and angelica; the land has proven generous. Swallows still slash our August sky.  I pushed my wander  to Clumlie and found mischievous animals; pirating arctic skuas and their cousins (great skuas, aka “bonxies”) on a raid to a common gull… Avian behaviour sometimes matches that of humans. Nothing shocking, you might think there, since we belong to the same kingdom order.
 Last week’s social unrest in another part of the world, where I once lived and taught in a previous life, so far away geographically, rekindled mixed flavoured memories. Communities tied to tarmac, and firmly kept inside bubbles by an elite, have to make-do with a code that keeps everyone in line. But when the artificial world (money, greed-led order) pushes some to a precipice, I see bonxies roaming around cliff ledges in search of an easy snack, or orcas playing in the surf with their own preys. I still have sentimental ties with some of those affected areas and my heart goes to all who have crossed my path, as well as the communities so resilient in the face of fear & adversity. 

Here, on the island, I watch filtered news snippets from the distance, as my marked aversion for that wheel of news was already amplified years earlier… Below leaves and petals, nobody’s spared from the laws of chaos. We just prepare for leaner days. Soon the autumn equinox will balance night and day… And as my northern hemisphere slides back in to darkness, I need to remember that our world has more than one facet – faces that are regulated by a greater order, that of our universe. To walk outside that artificial bubble is to set ourselves free and walk to the edge of an ocean, at dawn (or dusk)! It is called awakening

Nocturn – Movie, courtesy of Burgeois, illustrates my final argument. Enjoy the ride! (And yes, it illustrates Kate’s masterpiece, Nocturn.) 


Filed under 60N, Arcania, geopoetics, island, shore

from one roof of the world


My immediate thought leads me to Baudelaire’s Elevation, as I reach the top of one of my favourite headlands, Compass Head. From this altitude, I contemplate the majesty of the southern edge of the island. Today, shameless blue defines both sides of horizon. Tall grass in full bloom bows to a cool wind and feathers glide among eddies.  There isn’t a single dry stone wall; only a fence to save sheep from obliging to gravity… Those quadrupeds do not seem daunted by running so close to the edge, fenced or not. From this angle, Sumburgh Head Light soothes my heart. It feels so safe in the distance. How I savour this moment of plenitude. My avian companions defy the whims of the wind through dare-devil acrobatics; a shameless sun warms my epidermis. All feels at peace in this chaos. To feel at one with my hillside, I lay the length of my body and listen to the wind. 

What a lovely afternoon… Kate’s Sky of Honey crops in my head, like a very natural leitmotiv.  My North Atlantic resembles le coeur de la mer and shines like a thousand sapphires.  In the distance, two islands rekindle happy memories – Fair Isle to the SSW and Noss, NNE. Both “big rocks” are home to a myriad of feathers. Both dominate the horizon, as they tower up in this Nordic sky. And I feel somewhere in between… Breathing out and breathing in. Serenity fills my heart. I love the view  and find my place in the tall grass. Time has become irrelevant, here, as the universe synchronizes my earthride. This code of chaos reigns all around the peninsula in sheer splendour! …Up, up,up on the roof! In the sun…. Aerial 

Drinking from the blue cup of both sky and Atlantic can only connect us with the world and generate happiness to the point of giddiness! Such moments may not last days on end, hence their precious status! On my way back to the magic line of latitude, Foula (“Bird Island”) smiles at me from the West. I love the way monsieur Baudelaire elevates the heart; he would feel home on this island.

 Cloudbusting is now playing on the computer, as this walk comes to an end. Kate’s 1985 anthem remains tattooed in my heart every time I go uphill. Not Oxfordshire’s Dragon Hill, but a headland I sometimes reach to touch and dream.  Hmmm, on such subject of mythical place-names, I have Dragon’s Head at Ninian, The Drongs (Dragon’s Teeth) at Eshaness and Dragon’s Leg on Bressay… Though I promised myself to re-visit Dragon’s Hill on my next trip to Oxfordshire!

Triptych of haiku on the subject of chaos 

Scientist’s dream –
look at branch of the old birch tree,
chaos fashioned from gentle breeze.
#haiku fae 60N

Laws of Chaos –
on arctic shores, kamikaze lemmings
oblivious to man’s equation.
#haiku fae 60N

Black sun –
starlings’ ballet in orange sky,
rule of seven neighbours.
#haiku fae 60N

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Filed under 60N, Arcania, geopoetics, haiku, images, island, writing

from blue to blue

Light refractors

On a wander around my favourite hilltop, I can easily marvel at the magic light produces when refracting on water… Light cobalt from a clear day all around. And if I peep towards the edge of the picture, this ocean blue surrounds the southern tip of the island. From this altitude, I stop and stand – enjoy a view on the same way a great skua or a raven need to survive…  Breathtaking moment as my fingers comb the sky. 
The other side is a treasure. This water-clogged world of mires is home to elusive merlins, 
the smallest of the falcon family on this side of the Atlantic. On arrival, one whizzes below eye level. Such encounter feels like an earthly privilege and I wonder if this individual was not the one who caused so much havoc among a gang of starlings a few years earlier! This impromptu thought takes my heart back to a thrilling moment, as I once found a trio of starlings seeking refuge inside my car as a merlin performed a last minute L shape stunt before my eyes in order to avoid collision! (Yes, it was a boannie day and my car window on my side was wide open!) …I had come to my hill with a poem in mind. It  since ended published in NorthWords Now under the title Horizons. It tastes like Proust’s madeleine in my heart.

Feathers aside, I descend the hill like I descend into night. This glorious blue I like to celebrate so much turns indigo on such light nights. A last look at the top from mid-range in late afternoon lets me believe I could be witnessing a wonderful celestial spectacle as evening clads my horizon, and maybe look for those magic light refractors that are our stars in a clear night.

I love night.
As a poet and a photographer. Last night proved a perfect one to record it through the lens, as I stood at my kitchen door that leads to the back garden. My field of view is impressive. S down to Compass & Sumburgh Head; SW to the township of Levenwick… West to Rompa, my nearest hill behind Hoswick, with the Old Manse and kirk in the foreground… And when night comes, water refracts lights like the sky! It feels serene. As the tide turns, the earth provides background music – as birds settle in nearby fields, this homeworld symphony  can only enchant each moment. 

from blue 2 blue

 At around 2120 GMT, my nordic sky blended cobalt blue with honey. Our nearest star would slide through the horizon with great taste… 

The final embers of crimson did not take long to come and go.

Blue remained light, as we began to descend into dusk and then night. Each moment captured on my memory card  felt a treasure as well as a precious time capsule… Further, further down into night and to the very first light refractor! My eyes searched through the universe. Cobalt turns eventually indigo, as clock hands tick and waltz on the wall… 

There, indigo night. In the distance, across the sea, my eyes are drawn to the  neighbouring township…. Life refracted inside the bay, and around us through secluded man-built windows. I elevated my eyes to the sky to discover Arcturus in my Western sky. Draco and Lyra soon followed, with Ursa Major in one corner of the sky. One by one, familiar constellations danced in my northern hemisphere. I peeped at Perseus in the hope to catch its summer bounty of meteors! …Just like sparks from a flint of a gigantic Zippo lighter! That takes me back to another piece entitled The Whole of The Sky, written in 2009 and published last year at the following Blog entry: night, 14 August 2010.

Hmmm, will need to keep an eye on the Perseids, cloud permitting, and be patient.

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Filed under 60N, Arcania, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, north, shore, simmerdim, spirit, world, writing

Hairst, harvest time…


In between two patches of fog, I walk the shore to a headland. The sun may smile at wild flowers, a curious wind ruffles feathers… To the many dwellers of the island, hairst – harvest time – has begun.

Through the great eye of the ocean, one bows to generosity. Fishers return with glorious tales; gulls flock to share scraps from the loot, as they linger in the harbour… To the impromptu visitor, none will vanish empty handed. 

Today’s catch of haddock, cod, mackerel and whiting will bring many smiles. Summer belongs to fishermen, who dare to brave tides of the sea. Even selkies come to this feast!

Higher ahead, where currents reign, gannets flock well beyond the Roost, this area where the North Sea and North Atlantic 
come to clash for a mighty tidal embrace! On breezy days, the great headland turns into aerial  motorways, as they and fulmars whiz like wacky racers without fears. At 45 meters above sea level, they come to check the visitor on their way.  As I wander further inland, swallows grace my late afternoon sky. It is still summer as long as they stay around old barns, byres and haystacks! 

The land taints itself in purple; silage is cut, gulls fill furrows from an old plough…    Night has returned.  Hairst – harvest time – every flower bows to the wind. 
I hear skuas from the distance. This land of heath is home to many earth dwellers, birds, man and sheep. The great peatlands clad in low clouds feel so soft under every step. Between mires, where the ground feels like a mattress, the wanderer fulfills a dream and feels at one with each moment. 

To embrace this feeling of plenitude is to dare walk till the edge.  On my way to my favourite geo (a long, narrow steep-sided cleft formed by coastal erosion in a cliff)  birdsong and calls colour my day. Northern wheatears, terns and shalders (oystercatchers) still animate those August days. Soon they will wander further south. Needless to add, the great migration has already begun! 

To the great eye of the ocean, I have reached my destination. 

As I retrace my every step, I feel my place inside this home; listen to the song of the wind across my sandbridge and the land. Hairst – harvest time – in Arcania has just begun.

haiku string

Oceanic –
salt-filled wings
caught in holographic sunset.
#haiku fae 60N

Equation –
throw a pebble in the ocean,
look for the missing universe.
#haiku fae 60N

Northlore –
launch a raven high into sky,
look for your island universe.
#haiku fae 60N

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Filed under 60N, Arcania, atlantic, birds, geopoetics, images, island, seabird, shore, writing