Category Archives: boats

renouveau

Spring has multiplied signs throught that long and still ice-bladed month of March. If light has reached parity with darkness on the 20th day, and our migrating visitors called at night and settled back in our fields and meadows whilst others pursued their incredible journey north, the island still needs to wake to the promises of the season.

April, April… Life rekindles

March now behind us. Tonight I heard eight puffin scouts have been located west of my favourite headland in our inshore waters. Earlier, friends reported the magical ascending song of a skylark as they wandered by abandoned crofts… Common Eider drakes already sit by their concubines… On inspection of the ground, daisies and bluebells have long braved snow, ice and thaws, re-icing and equinox gales. Even within the perimeter of my sanctuary, the grass has grown and would deserve a serious cut. Spring, voar, so precocious.
Eider drake and its concubine reunited at Aith Voe.
Light reappears on the 60th North Parallel. I read somewhere that between the two solstices – and more precisely as we approached the Vernal Equinox – we were gaining up to two hours of light every month… Now, as April has entered in the great cosmic ballroom, my sunrises and sunsets are becoming more epic.
Turnstones by the edge of water…
Strangely enough, fog has already been rolling on from our local hills. “Exotic” and “curious”, for fog remains an oddity before April… February and March both felt odd in places.
Peculiar episodes of fog we, islanders, usually experience from mid-April…
Yet April promises (or do I really take this for granted?) liberation from many claws – storms, gales, and other signatures from the icy months. And if I have yet to listen to my first skylark, I know it will not be long. The sky just needs to quieten a little more and our star to warm up those acres of storm-bent grass around our meadows… Wake, wake, wake, wake!

April is when you return to me.

The magic of walking to my favourite headland.
As I am typing you are gradually falling asleep. Your case is packed. Your passport lies in a pocket of your handbag… Tomorrow, you too will begin your migration north – north by NE, as you will cross that stretch of your Irish Sea to find your way back in Glasgow before making your way to my North Sea from the mouth of a sheltered harbour. We can travel the world like swallows… or Storm Petrels. But to journey, we need a boat. I may not wait for you from my favourite headland on Saturday, But I will gladly watch that great blue Viking efigee on the white hull we call da boat approach my favourite offshore island of Mousa at about 6.30 in the morning and drive parallel to you, as the bow kisses each wave from our sheltered waters. If we are lucky enough, Mother Sea will let you enter the Bressay Sound with grace.
Happy common seal in the surf. Selkie life…
It will be your first time. Selkies and seagulls will salute you on your passage. You are about to return to me as seabirds find their way across miles of oceanic deserts, da Roost to reconvene with my headlands, bays and meadows. Now, my turn to find sleep from my northern latitude, as I will be by your side tomorrow, in voice and spirit. I have prepared home to welcome you on my northern island. In anticipation to your arrival, I wrote a piece entitled North Voyager. It sounds and reads like a leitmotive… And yet it does epitomise that promise from Spring.
North Voyager

There is a time when you will see edge of
my land,
          the rounded head shaped by
                                that kiss of Atlantic and
cold North Sea; where
solans glide above Spring's crests,
follow the furrow from
                                  the ship,
blue man on white,
head-dressed to defy every tide and
                                 moder dy...
No castle perched, but 
a lighthouse that defines hamewir tun an 
                                      hearth;
and if you stand out on
the deck, that gentle breeze fae 60N will
whisper words in northern tongue,
roll every "r" in every breath,
                            sea spray, spindrift -
touch you with salt glued on its lips.
Now,
you're parallel to my world, birds and 
                                             sandstone -
maalies join solans in the wind,
              Mousa appears left to your eyes,
   inshore waters will guide you to
da Horse's Heid, as Bressay grows 
closer to heart, and
        mine will beat as fast as dyne,
now you're safe in the Bressay Sound.

Only minutes and a pressgang separate us.

                                         Welcome to 
                      my northern island.

 
© Nat Hall 2019 

Dialect word glossary:

solans: Gannets
moder dy: the underlying of the swell used by ancient firshermen as a guide.
hame: home
wir tun: our toonship (human settlements)
Spindrift: sea spray, balls of salt created by gales
maalies: Fulmar Petrels
da Horse's Heid: [place name] the Knab (headland in S Lerwick)
dyne: yours

Solan (Gannet)

Bon voyage!

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Bressay

Lerwick Harbour [1]It takes a day to meet and share an adventure.

In anticipation to meeting a kindred spirit at the Bressay Ferry Terminal – en route to the most westerly point of the island – came that invisible bridge between two harbours, tied by one stretch of water, our very Bressay Sound. From April to September, many seaworthy crafts come to anchor or to moor in our waters… And Leirna criss-crosses like a spider.

Bressay, the great sheltering whale-shaped island just opposite our only town, stands between two worlds I love.

My visiting friend, who  emerged from the ferry with two Bressay residents I know so well, had freshly arrived from this other side of the North Sea, via Bergen. She too was ready for a great adventure, in the hope to see an otter among our many local wild treasures. As I waited for her on the Lerwick side, came a poem.

 

Bressay

 

Alexandra Wharf on a Sunday afternoon, where

feet wander between islands, and

boats are tied to

known

bollards;

I look at you from

my town side, between

the Knab & Kebister.

You, inside

waves,

in

between Hay’s Dock and Bryggen, where

clouds fly past, white,

oblivious; where

fishermen anchored in hords to

fill barrels with

scales and

salt,

silver darlings –

we share the sea, wharves,

dark box beds, cracks in floorboards,

lead diamond shapes from old windows, as two towns rose,

rust, labyrinth of wood and salt,

two stories tied where

folk wander off

a ferry and

imprint their lives on tarmac… And still

remember old cobbles.

I’m still counting

ripples and

tides,

ink and blotches from well-kept books somebody wrote on

Bergen side –

countless columns,

whole salesman’s world.

But you stand firm against each gale,

shelter my side of the

harbour,

and

when

I look at your

portside, I see the meadows of summer,

the great white whale

clad inside

snow.

NH, 2017

 

Oh, we saw that otter in Sandness, and savoured cake, as we sat on the edge of the pier.

dratsie at Melby 13 Aug 2017

 

 

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treasure islands

img_6439

Love my homeworld, and shared it with five intrepid explorers.

Here it is, in a poetic form.

A Day among Birds

I felt the sea today,

harnessed my

heart to

wave

level.

Gannets,

gannets, gannets filled

my sky – solan,

havsule,

a sea of wings in island blue above

my eyes, like a painting or

magic swarm

morning had flushed off in

a dream…

My memory now

filled with salt they call

spindrift – today I felt

treasure islands.

NH 2017

Photos at my Instagram (@nordicblackbird)

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vakkert (#wearewoman #2) 

anita orheim work From Norway, West Norway, I COULD HAVE A TRIPTYCH of three beautiful women featured in today’s post – and they are rightly in my heart. Yet I choose the ONE who opened me that wonderful door to Norge, and this is obviously my friend and photographer Anita Orheim, now Perrone.

We are Woman, creative, beautiful.

Anita Orheim Perrone e- Our friendship feels ancestral as well as creative. And when I was asked to attend her wedding to François Perrone, read at the Fana kirke, my lens was also very active on that very magical day. Moment tattooed forever in my heart.

How long now have I known Anita? Photography connects us. Our story flang brand new doors wide open when Anita asked me to cover Norway Liberation Day 2010, celebrated for the very first time in Shetland, with Norwegian Royal representation via the Norwegian Coastguards & closer to her home, via NYBAKK,  the floating museum led by the Nybakk family, which in turn became part of “my Norskie Clan”. We shared so many slices of life since Scalloway, Lerwick, and Shetland…

As many folk say, the rest is history.

 

Please visit Anita’s photographic constellation under Anita Orheim Photography

 

Today, my “Norwegian sister” lives back home happily with François and their peerie man, Alvar.

Here, to celebrate her woman’s work, as a mother in her homeworld, a poem.

 

Le Petit Prince de Norvège

The one who stops looking up at the stars forgets.

He counts clementines at Yule time on a table fit for a prince, or

a dreamer;

give him a glass that will

allow Jupiter’s moons, or the

silky rings of Saturn shine in his eyes –

smallest of things,

single filed ants along a stem,

mayflies newly born at sunrise,

dust from Lyra, or comet hairs

enlight his mind.

Let him

lie down in the meadow where

grass grows high to home hoppers,

mimmick the blackbird,

feel the elk,

befriend a rose or a red fox…

Give him

goggles and leather gloves,

map & compass, coordinates to

avoid dunes in the desert.

Show him

the Moon, the way each waves shapes the heart stone*,

the way the sun clads earth spirits,

weaves green saris in winter skies –

teach him the songs from

auroras.

And if the bridge feels strong enough,

he’ll look at you when he’s afraid, and reach for the string of his kite.

The one who keeps looking at stars will

find his footprints in the

snow.

© Nat Hall 2017

Note:

* the “heart stone”= Kannesteinen Rock, from Oppedal, off Måløy.

 

 

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tribal

Every first Friday of March, as told by the tide, we gather, united by bond and fire, and we celebrate the return of the sun.

#smuha 2017, from Cunningsburgh, with burning at Mail Beach.

 

SMUHA Community 2017

SMUHA 2017 tribe

SMUHA 2017 Community spirit

viking SMUHA 2017 e-

 

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worldwide

Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.

Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.

“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…

compass-head-book-cover From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!

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launched

  Inside the great temple of books, readers and authors, we found home.

That journey took time in itself. 

Launched virtually on Amazon to let it fly to readers’ hands on 30 March, as if to break a curse (that of losing my grandmother to whom Compass Head is dedicated, among two other generations of mothers) my wish to celebrate it with some very special guests took place on the twentieth day of the fifth month.

And they all answered present.

Local poet, friend & mentor when it comes to the dialect, Laureen Johnson, to whom I feel grateful to put my work in the limelight as early as 2004 inside the New Shetlander, would grace the floor; James Andrew Sinclair, with whom I read, wrote and performed over over a decade; but also a string of weavers of sounds in the names of Alan McKay, Suzanne Briggs, Lewis Hall, and – last but not least – Donald Anderson, singer songwriter & former Literature Development Officer at Shetland Arts. We share a creative story.

They are my compagnons de voyage. 

What a great night we gave the audience at the Shetland Library. A total of seventy folk came to the Hillhead. I felt overwhelmed at some stage, and so humble.

 From the back, it looked like this…

 From the side it looked like that. 

Marghie Thompson West, one of our Hillhead librarians, turned mistress of ceremony.

One by one – or in two’s, as Suzanne and Alan joined up to delight us with two classics, La mer,  and Les feuilles mortes (Jacques Prévert) or as Alan & Donald duetted with their respective guitars – we entertained with flair and grace.

That’s when time turned irrelevant (for a moment)… 

On this occasion, I wish to thank you, who came to listen to us all; you, who contributed to a fabulous celebration – our Shetland librarians, who homed it, your hospitality, smiles and joie de vivre added to your first-class service. To Margaret for a very special cake that left me breathless (on top of all other goodies you prepared with love). 


To Marsaly Taylor for your glowing review in the Shetland Times the week before; to Jane Moncrieff from BBC Radio Shetland (Scotland) & Lawrence Tulloch (Give us a Tune, BBC Radio Shetland) for airing it on the air waves. To Aneta, for your presence, keeping me smiling & hospitality in Lerwick. 🙂 

And there is more to come. 🙂

Compass Head is travelling and reaching so many headlands. It is beautiful. Am ever so thankful to my Norway-based publishing house, Nordland Publishing, and James Andrew Murray, their second poet, for believing in my work in the very first place.

Compass Head, as part of the Songs of the North. 

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