Category Archives: blogging

Hairst

Seasonal gathering of silage.

Hairst

Da shalders* have moved on. Da playing fields, once

more silent.

Their flight calls,

memories.

As

summer’s

sliding into Hairst,

wir hame sky changed

its song; tis now

time for

sheepdogs,

shriek calls from

young blackbirds still

clad in brown

feathers;

mass

gathering of

life around cliffs and

headlands, our

first sign of

winter.

Now

silage

rolled in bails,

the winged world can

move on, our

gulls will

fill a

sky and

join Aeolus in

his quest for new songs.

8 Aug 2020.

NH

#

Golden Plover in cotton grass

Poet’s Notes

Hairst means harvest, and is also the Shetland name for autumn, derived from Norwegian Høst & German Herbst…

Shalders, the Shetland name for oystercatchers.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, birds, blogging, celebration, change, earth, geopoetics, hairst, home, island, life, literature, migration, north, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit, summer, travel, verse, wildlife, wind, world, writing

wildaboutshetland

Sumburgh Head, our most southerly headland, where nature blends with RSL and his family of lighthouse builders.

Hjaltland,

From the O(ld) N(orse), Hjaltland is above all the Old Viking name to my home islands, wir Auld Rock, as we love to call Shetland.

To get back to da Auld Rock is to go hame, or home… Or heim if you are Norwegian in search of cultural connection, or sailing adventures.

I have always regarded Shetland as a collection of hidden gems inside a blue (or jade… Or metallic grey, as our sky defines it!) casket. Living on the fringe of Scotland – as north as you can go, and yet full of surprises. Together with Orkney, Shetland form the Northern Isles.

Looking towards the Atlantic from the Scord of Wormadale.

Yet each island group remains distinctive in every way – including flags and dialects – and both have to be explored.

An adventurer’s paradise

Nestled between a sea and an ocean on the 60th parallel, da Auld Rock has everything to offer. From history, language, culture, food to nature. And our natural world is magic! After all, it is not for nothing naturalist & TV Broadcaster Simon King once defined it as one of Britain’s last corners of utter wildness…

Wild and spacious, looking towards St. Ninian’s Isle in the North Atlantic.

Ideally situated at the crossroads with Scotland and the Nordic world (Norway to the East, Faroe & Iceland, North West) we are both the most northerly edge of the UK and the Scandinavian corner of Scotland!

Whilst Orkney has wonderful, lush gentle slopes and rounded heads, Shetland offers both gentle and more rugged landscapes (from mini-fjords to towering cliffs via miles of moorland) with a greater diversity of habitats (due to its own collection of rocks, ranging from soapstone to serpentine, via sandstone, limestone or pink granite to name but a few…) which, in turn, offers unparalleled wildlife at and around 60N… In one word, breathtaking.

Shetland ponies in buttercups

We are a maritime world, and what best but discover it from the sea – highly recommended in summer, as our Roost (the open area where tides from the North Sea and Atlantic collide) feels far friendlier than in winter…

Looking towards Hellister (headland, left) and Norway!

Hame is a land where we lose sight of horizon, as sea and sky become one…

Hame is a land where boats are more than a way of life… If an Orcadian is a farmer with a boat, a Shetlander is a sailor with a peerie (small) plot of land.

Whilst only two inhabited islands are accessible by one-way bridges, a boat will take you about everywhere, including to birds!

Hame is anchored in history, from the very earliest human settlements to today, where we have made a close-knit community.

South Shetland Up-Helly-Aa, a unique fire fest postponed till 2021 due to CO-VID times…

Curious about it? Jarlshof remains one of our most impressive archaeological sites that is so unique in Britain, for it offers us a time walk unrivalled… Another hidden gem!

From Dunrossness to Unst, our most northerly inhabited isle, the land is littered with Norse and pre-Norse treasures.

Nature…

Nature, naturally natural!

Hame is that place to get away from it all! Throw away your watch to the sea, and dare ask time to a selkie…

“Just give me five minutes, will you???”

From flora to marine and avifauna, we are ruled by nature, in turn, ruled by seasons and the sky.

You too are a keen nature lover? Then Shetland is for you!

Shetland so inspiring…

From the darkest nights, at times coloured by our Northern Lights (Mirrie Dancers) in winter to our azure nights (Simmer Dim), where our sky’s filled with birdsong, Shetland is alive.

Aurora Borealis from my back garden.

But in summer..

Blue night known locally as Simmer Dim.

Here, dare to virtually explore further : nordicblackbird60n for I love to record my homeworld as a photographer.

The magic latitude

This is hame, home, as I live and love it. So I speak, share and write about it as a poet with so much passion. When the time is right, and if you too wish to leap to this Auld Rock, stay for a while, and want to walk this shore with me, your adventure will truly start either on board MV Hrossey or Hjaltland.

Eyebright

Et si vous voulez tout cela en français, je me ferai une immense joie de partager ma maison shetlandaise avec vous. 😌

Suivez-moi… Follow me 🙂

See you soon, and fair winds!

Bon vent, et à bientôt !

Literary works: From Shore to Shoormal/D’un rivage à l’autre (BJP, with D. Allard, 1992) and Compass Head (Nordland Publishing, 1996)

Contrasts

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, celebration, CO-VIDtimes, colours, community, Diaz, earth, geopoetics, home, images, introduction, island, lerwick, life, lodberrie, north, scotland, seabird, shetland, shore, simmerdim, spirit, travel, unst, vikings, welcome, wildlife, wind, world, writing

survival

July.

Tis already time to return… Cross back oceans, straits, continents. Here is a piece I offer you in high summer from my boreal latitude. It is entitled “Survival” as inspired by Red-Necked Phalaropes, Oystercatchers and all those great avian migrants in search of warmth, food, survival.

juv Tern, Shetland, 5 July 2020. En route to a journey clocked at some 12,500 miles…

Survival

Two storks above the Sahara, in

search of food beyond

gold sand;

the price of life, or

survival to

reach their home south of

sly dunes,

the Sea of Sand;

free from

boreal equinox,

they have to trek back to

the sun, where

grass stalks grow so bountiful, where

birdsong beat ice, icicles,

night and unknown –

heaven so

bright,

ephemeral, as

winged nomads strive to

survive…

But

when I look at

our own kind, the one that

cage or kill them all,

lose drifting nets,

trap to get

gold,

I

say

we lost

sense of it all;

our right to live as visitors is

not worthy of Mother

Earth.

Life or survival,

gift or curse,

now

bow to greeting albatross.

© NH 2020.

Red-Necked Phalarope, 5 July 2020.

1 Comment

Filed under 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, celebration, earth, education, geopoetics, home, island, literature, migration, north, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit, summer, verse, wildlife, world, writing

Summer Song

I am

the blackbird perched out loud,

serenading to wind and

fog;

I am the voice

between branches,

whisper from the breeze

evening skjump *

I am the crooner of hillsides,

the long billed one in

solstice grass…

I am

the invisible song,

the one that slashes through

silence – finds meaningfulness on

fence posts, offers feathers to

drum and Earth to advertise

love and presence in

hope to be heard by the sky.

And watch your spirit

chirp and thrive, as

time tick-tocks to

Earth’s cycle;

sparkling

sparrow in stereo,

the one that chirps out of nowhere…

I am daylight beyond belief,

the one that clads night

azure blue –

grey or

plain white according to

wandering fog.

I am what they call da Simmer Dim.

© NH 2020.

4 Comments

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, celebration, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, life, light, literature, north, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, simmerdim, spirit, summer, verse, wildlife, wind, writing

Da May Snaa

Da May snaa juist does’na exist,

da flukra,

juist a bairn’s daydream,

peerie man’s imagination –

a moorie caavie i’da bowl, laek beremael gröl… Far tae

white fur

da Simmer Dim;

far tae cauld fur

da Mayflooer,

da kattiklu or

da blugga.

© Nat Hall 2020

Snow in May… Not a daydream.

The May Snow

The May snow just does not exist,

The gentle fall of fat snowflakes, just

a child’s daydream,

little boy’s imagination –

a blizzard in a bowl, like

porridge oats, far too

white for

a summer’s night;

far too cold for

our primroses,

bird’s foot trefoil…

marigold.

© Nat Hall 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, blogging, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, island, life, literature, north, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, simmerdim, snow, spirit, spring, summer, verse, verse poetry, wildlife, wind, winter, world, writing

From My Window

From my window,

I imagine les frères Lumière,

wish, dream of sound,

wrens, lavericks, whaaps an shalders, as

beaks open, muted by glass that

separates us from

their verve,

time to

bill-read and celebrate deprived of

notes, arpeggios, songs…

From my window,

salt smudges clouds, blue,

The Old Manse,

sunsets,

seasons – each shaft of light creates pictures always defined by

criptic skies,

limelight from sun,

my human eyes, stunned cameras in

Shetlandscope caged in a frame

rectangular.

From my window,

life secluded in a fisheye, where

herring gulls turn barn owls, and

corbies re-write their shadows,

corvids, alive, play in

our sky…

CO-VID confined us behind glass, like

a Chaplin on celluloid.

© Nat Hall 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, change, CO-VIDtimes, earth, geopoetics, home, humanity, island, life, literature, north, poetry, scotland, seabird, shetland, shore, spirit, spring, verse, verse poetry, wildlife, wind, wishes

Unst

Unst is my summer/autumn “pilgrimage”.

Filled with magical wildness, Vikingness and wildlife, it is the said island RLS chose as – in terms of outline – his treasure island for the purpose of his famous novel…

An island fit for exploration and adventures that will unveil so many treasures…

And speaking of treasures, two nights ago, I found a treasure in which a poem was sleeping in a pocket-size moleskin I once took with me to this top of my northerly archipelago (well as north as “inhabited” can go!) – the edge of my world.

In this precious notebook, I travelled back to those late July days where a friend and I returned to a favourite beach – Eastings, Sandwick, Unst – Uyesound, Baltasound, Skaw, Norwick, Hermaness and its nearby Boat Station… Magic places I never tire of. That summer was that in 2017.

AUDIO VERSION available https://soundcloud.com/nordicblackbird/unst-wir-treasure-island-by/s-bTquKktEyE8

Sandwick Beach, Unst

This poem is entitled

Unst, Wir Treasure Island

1. Sandwick Beach

Inside your hood, you hide and smile –

eyes riveted to horizon, that gang of tirricks above surf,

that perfect beach lost inside blue,

home to sanderlings and solans,

the Moon’s best friend, whatever tide.

Note:

Tirrick: Arctic (or common Tern); Solan: Gannet

Dratsie (otter) at Sandwick Beach, 27/7/17

2. Dratsie

Out of the sea an otter runs,

fur filled with dreams,

walks out on sand.

Boat Station, off Hermaness

3. Island Life

Bonxie, Loch of Cliff – female Dunters, Hermaness, Boat Station – meadow pipit chick on roadside – Tysties and Rock Pipits, Boat Station – Solans off Boat Heaven, Haroldswick… Dratsie fishing in the bay with its head popping up – two Swallows, Saxavord Resort – Pied Wagtail, 2 Raingjus at Norwick…

Note:

Bonxie: Great Skua, Dunters: Common Eiders, Tystie: Guillemot, Raingjus: Red-Throated Diver.

Norwick Beach

4. Norwick Shalls

You walked back ta da Noost wi shalls,

a braally treasure i’da haands;

da sheenie kind,

better dan silver, gold an aa.

And from da Shetland Dialect:

You walked back to the top of the beach with shells,

A fine treasure in your hands;

the shining kind,

better than silver, gold and all.

Any’s shalls 🙂

5. Skaw

A’da end o’da boannie road dat takks dee awye fae da sea,

follow da steinshakkers,

da lone clood an da wind-

da ocean bed, raw serpentine

Dere is a meadow a’da end,

a bed o eyebright an a stream –

Eden shaped up couleur croissant.

Any at da Lang Hoose (Harodswick, Viking Unst Project)

6. Da Lang Hoose

Inside da laang hoose wir entered, an fun fowr chairs chiselled by haands oot’ o pine trees…

As if spirits invited wis fur a laang yarn or juist fur mead.

Dere wis nae fire i’da hearth, bit wir felt hame, sae wir sat doon.

Inside da Laang Hoose, Haroldswick.

And from the Shetland Dialect:

6. The Long House

Inside the long house we entered and found four chairs chiselled by hands out of pine trees…

As if spirits invited us for a long chat or just for mead.

There was no fire in the hearth, but we sat down.

Da hearth 🙂

© Nat Hall 2020 (revisited from regional verse initially penned 27-29 July 2017).

For you, Any, intrepid adventurer, with love.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, boats, celebration, colours, community, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, life, literature, north, poet, poetry, scotland, seabird, shetland, shore, simmerdim, spirit, summer, unst, vikings, wildlife, world, writing

A Tale of Two Islands

You, in your corner of Antrim, where your sea jewel emerald, a giant heaved up a causeway in

a story black as basalt, hexagonal to crystalise wrath from ocean;

and yet too short to reach my shore. He never thought of a land bridge, since you fret at

Carrick-a-Reede,

planks and ropes, in suspension between two cliffs, where fulmars glide, cackle with pride – in that Northern Irish accent…

You should be dreaming in Glasgow.

Broch making in Hoswick

Here, we build brochs as watch towers from rounded stones to eye each movement from the sea.

Da Roost has declared us landlocked.

I made a fresh pot of veg soup with enough carrots, leek and kale; freed my coatrack from winter tales And polished taps to revive chrome…

A full spring clean I call redd-up.

I count minutes between two gusts, knot for windspeed around headlands where lights still blink and

refract hope…

Instead our world’s tied to bollards, silenced and still; locked inside docks, behind closed doors,

I too wish to forward the clock;

watch you sail past my island shore, as the sun rises in your eyes… Watch you glide across the pressgang, long corrugated corridor that reunites our words and smiles,

Instead, I listen to the wind…

What a start to the new decade, April and voar. Somebody unleashed a devil, a terrorist invisible that sweeps and snatches blindfolded…

And pray it spares you in Belfast.

© Nat Hall 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, blogging, CO-VIDtimes, geopoetics, home, irishness, island, life, metasaga, north, poetry, scotland, seabird, shetland, shore, spirit, spring, writing

Cacophonous

Cirrus clouds above our land

In this world silenced by a terrorist disease, skylarks still sing above an early April hissing gale.

In this part of the main island, where Sandness looks lost inside haze, tussock grass yields, yet those birds we call laverick have returned as lairds o’da braes – elevated above da tun an da scattald (human dwellings and open fields where grazing’s shared among crofters…).

Deserted world except for birds…

They will defy the harshest gust, ignore that brutal tongue from gales to sing to blueness and the sun.

To each passing of cirrus clouds, they do not know the world’s locked down, as they ascend among ravens, oblivious to material us.

They have returned in their hundreds to the daresay of each hillside.

On this Monday lost in April, this sky has turned cacophonous, as hillsides home song of skylarks, that dare to ignore gusts from gales…

And us, below, slaved to silence.

© Nat Hall 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, birds, blogging, celebration, CO-VIDtimes, community, earth, geopoetics, home, humanity, images, island, life, north, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit, spring, verse, verse poetry, wildlife, wind, world, writing

Sick of Soap

My hands are sick of soap.

They look so crissed, wrinkled apples, cracked as a ledge in sandstone cliff, as water erodes when I rinse.

Along the journey, they hold fast, endure sun, gales, seasons and tides,

the pen and hoe, satin and grind;

but every dip in hot water stings as if they delved into nettles, so hurt feels the epidermis, the balm won’t work…

I remember harshness of tools, bucket handles from a past world – slashing juncus or eau de javelle ;

water of death, water of life, survival comes at a high price.

My hands are sick of soap.

They never knew daily gutting from herring days, slyness of blades, the salt furnace from a barrel, but

glass paper, papier de verre – as

yellow liquid daily foamed to wash in haste between lessons. Day after day, weeks, months and terms, to beat what sticks invisible.

Those hands are sick of soap.

Sick of cover-ups, stings and lies… They bleed and peel when they don’t crack; they remind me of Lure Mountain or

Mont Ventoux,

wind-blasted, barren to blunt ice, torrents of fears or acid rain, as dead skin crumbles against nails.

Sick of soap hands cry for respite,

freedom from iron and shackles, that terrible terrorist desease that runs around like wildfire…

They need to heal to work longer.

© NH 2020.

Mont Ventoux

Leave a comment

Filed under 2020, 60N, Arcania, blogging, CO-VIDtimes, Compass_Head, geopoetics, humanity, life, poetry, shetland, shore, spirit, verse, white, wishes, writing