Category Archives: simmerdim

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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So

What happens between equinoxes remains a mystery.

…A black hole or stravaig in a desert where time locks itself in, as bubbles inside surf, or footprints lost through tides and gales.

Many walks done and gone. I still remember the Vernal Equinox, as March gave way to light and warmth. When birds returned to the island, and jenny wrens perched on roses to sing their songs, joined by blackbirds at dawn and dusk. A song so powerful, explosive and whimsical, you need to turn back and listen.

And as May comes with its unbound clemence, and shiny bright, stars vanish in the blue of night, as Beltane gives way to summer.

Summer, summer, da Simmer Dim, as our sky turns an opera house. Our island sings in tussock grass, around the bays – above our heads. It is a time filed with bounty, as our summer guests fish and hunt. A time where life fills with colours, where chicks grow feathers outwith dark. Darkness unknown to so many of us and fledlings until Arcturus reappears in late July. Our Atlantic and sense of North glow back orange. We then reignite our candles. In this mystical universe, the very few urban dwellers welcome July with refracting light in the bay. They do not question the great clock – the astronomical delight as da mirkin wins back its way. mirkin, murky times lie ahead…

Some walk through time on land, at sea.

As August wanes in honey gold, our most westerly land beacon feels a poltergheist at sunset. Foula, foul, fugl Island, with its bewildering cliff tops, redefines ife, geometry. Light as we knew from Simmer Dim – our nightless nights – lose in power, intensity. Our path to hairst and the autumnal equinox becomes clearer.

It is when night unveils its kaleidoscope of gales and stars. And we look more carefully, auroral glows in between clouds. Our pace hastens as we go home to the fire back in our hearths. Too soon the tides will speak out loud, and auroras trapped inside clouds will signal a new phase across the season. Few gannets fly, fish in the bay. Rose flowers gave way to their own fuits. The overgrowth lost its lushness… A lower sun shines through few leaves from alders or strong willows. That sense of blue tarnished with grey has lost its way. Deep purple hills back to bracken, bare and so brown.

September stepped in as a thief. October followed in its grace. Each wake-up call from our bedside triggers the start of each sunrise. Each minute lost now and regained, days have shortened and yet, still bright. I hear Sawhain’s still a long shot… Our winged friends wander south and south. For us, dwellers of thre island, we need to prepare for dark times.

Now, the island can sleep in peace, with auroras, constellations, stars and comets – a twany moon there as a friend.

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showcase

  It takes a gang of lens’ lovers to assemble thoughts & pixels for a project sleek & visual.
  
It takes time & dexterity to sit & select 80 images (out of a pack of 300) to grace the walls of Da Gadderie, Shetland’s SMA&A’s non-permanent exhibition space for a good part of a summer.

  It takes pleasure to see folk smile and share their thoughts & reactions on the first day as they embark on a journey between four walls…
  
It was a pleasure to see you. There is still time to come and see how we present our shared home world – how we look at all its treasures, and thank you all for your visit, wherever you began your journey.

  

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summertime 2014

wildest of blue

wildest of blue

Blue diva, window into deepest of blue, where colours blend on a palette, inside our many lush meadows… And yet it melts like an ice cream! What has happened to the magic of Simmer Dim, those luminous hours where night hides for our sun? July so packed with adventures, I never saw August arrive…

ADVENTURES, ADVENTURES!

I love the magic of my islands – from waterline to highest rock that shoots off the North Sea.

2014-07-17 12.06.48

Take a short time to cross a sound and find yourself on a uninhibited isle… How many times does this happen? I love that rock east of my home township – an escapade where only flowers and birds count.  A seal waits at the East Ham and will follow you all around, whilst terns remind you of their seasonal urge to survive and fare a chick for a short time… We are intruders after all…

Sitting in the sand and watch migration taking place at waterline level, with a gang of young sanderlings – those magical waders that behave like mechanical toys inside surf! That’s when time stops. Or simply walk around our cliffs to meet with our dear parrots of the sea, our breeding Atlantic puffins just yards away from each other 🙂

landing 2014-08-01 16.29.41

 

 

 

 

On a fine Sunday afternoon, stepped on a boat to marvel at other living treasures. So was the case around the isles of Bressay and Noss, just east of Lerwick, where thousands of seabirds – skuas, fulmars, puffins and gannets – gave us a show of a lifetime. Better than a Nature TV programme, as we felt utterly immersed into a world that surrounds us, yet as we lock ourselves inside bubbles, we tend to forget a very simple fact: we are part of this, not mere (TV) spectators! Birds everywhere – above our heads, all around us, on the water… Our boat’s adrift, just like our minds. It is breathtaking and somewhat overwhelming.

Also, We immersed a submarine camera to explore the other side of the big blue – the one that feels so unattainable, since we have lungs instead of gills.

Yes, this invisible universe, complete with wonderful forests, where sea squirts flirt with a star fish or gorgeous coral – where seals vanish around mysterious caves, homes of darkness to a terrien… Anemones look the sea version of bog cotton grass in the wind. We are safely watching the world.

We certainly live on an amazing planet, and it is there, on our doorstep 🙂

Gannet City!

Gannet City!

birds everywhere

birds everywhere

amazing planet

amazing planet

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website update

20140105-195548.jpgAt last, nordicblackbird / the roost is duly updated 🙂

 

Go check Writer’s Corner as summer is a season tainted by events & projects.

 Upcoming:

Auld Enemies, 14 July 2014 at Mareel, Lerwick, Shetland

 

Happy reading! 🙂

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live

Fantastic time with friends at Harrison Square in Lerwick to enjoy great live music from four talented musicians (previously mentioned on the blog) – but, heck, every performance has its distinct flavour and this latest one did not fail to meet its magic 🙂
The Donald Anderson Band is unafraid of cool N/NE’lies in a June silver sky – their melodies, spirit & vibes fly like gulls – free to delight their tuned listeners.
Now, my friend Kate is a real fan, and showed us all to love it more!
Wrapped up, alive, with open smiles 🙂
Thank you, all for a(nother) delicious slice of life.

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sleepless 60N

From last to first light, same time – 0107BST…
So in the shortest night of year, we gathered on a beach, shared, feasted & drummed. Sunset was luminous, crimson mirrored on the North Sea and our eyes shone right through the shades of blue till the early hours. As we parted dawn chorus filled a sky of pastel pink & blue.
On such night, I always light a beacon for all those I love, my peerie SA sister as well as those on the other side of the equator, who rotate through the Winter Solstice. This year did not fail, but I lit it by the waterline.
Magical Solstice celebration, thanks to my dear friends, Kate & Larry 🙂 xx

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