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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On my island, we call da mörkin, it signifies thedarkness.
It is when night outweighs daylight so much our sun dares not elevate itself so shamelessly. And by the time we reach Yule, the Winter Solstice, it will just peep out by just a few degrees at its zenith. It will turn so lazy, it will just reach that “magic 5 degrees” and then returns to hide by ten to three.
Nonetheless, we now know we are on a high cliff face that will gradually hoist us back to light. This word, da mörkin, derives from its Norwegian root, mørke. Like our neighbours from the deep fjords, we light candles (though we do celebrate St Lucy’s) inside our homes and toast to Yule. A time of merriment around tables, trees and loved ones (for the most fortunates).
This year, I have adorned my home a little bit early to make sure I would be ready for Jul, Yule and aa.
With that cosmic slide into da mörkin, December deserves scents and lights, music away from gales, high tides hail stones and skelping rain that falls horizontal.
So I adorned my home with holly and pine cones to welcome Yule. Angels protect my home until Barbara and Conor decide to slip away from our shores. Like my good friends from the great fjords, I will celebrate on the 24th, with a good friend from Burra. And then repeat that Yuletide feast on the 25th in the comfort of my home, as my friend will join me in the afternoon… We shall sample a few goodies so seasonal and hope for both a little clemence from the sky. I know my Norskie friends will taste the same, as what they named Julestorm affect them too.We share that northern hellery after all… Just 24 hours delay between us.
my very best wishes for a peaceful festive season, less terror from a sickened world – light to those who need it most. Everyday I light candles to remember that darkness can be vainquished – that there is light at the end of tunnels.
a piece for Jul, Yule an aa
God Jul på deg fra meg,
Godt nytt år,
og, så fint…
Eg drøymer om ditt land,
da cast iron stove at da farm, print fae da red deer ida snaa –
da peerie owl an blackie afore da day,
frozen apple fae dy gairden.
God Jul på dere fra
whaar da gale soonds a hellery, an
da spindrift flies juist laek snø
VENNLIG HILSEN fra
In English, it notably translates:
Happy Yuletide from me to you,
Happy new year,
I am dreaming of your land,
your cast iron stove at the farm, print from the red deer in the snow –
the small owl and the blackbird at dawn, frozen apple from
If I went wild on Saturday with my gang of kindred spirits right on the edge of the island, admiring with awe the raw beauty of returning Red-Throated Divers reinstated on their summer lochs & lochans, those everlasting mesmerising cliffs battered by time, salt & ocean, and listened to skylarks at the narrowest isthmus- yes, the world famous Mavis Grind – where the strongest of us might be able to throw a stone in both the North Sea & Atlantic, Sunday was tossed like a pancake, with Force 12 winds battering us as if we were still in winter…
To sum it up, here comes a short piece from my pen.
Before might of Mother Nature, in disarray when her crust shakes, fashions herself though molten rocks, we need to yield and face chaos.
In unison with prayer flags flying at will between Lhasa & Katmandu, every arête of mythical Hymalayas, I have unleashed my humble ones.
A quake terrifies us all.
Man may wage wars against his kind, inflict suffering to the world through various ways, including planet poisoning… But man remains powerless before anger from his homeworld – as that thin layer we call ground destroys his own making…
I watched yesterday’s first reports via a French channel. My heart sank at the people directly affected by yesterday’s massive quake. However, I was also appalled to hear of their [French reporters’] focus on “the terrible loss of UNESCO buildings & fear of French nationals on the Hymalayan slopes.” …As if they were more preoccupied by stones & privileged mountaineers in search of fame than the Nepalese folk dying under the rubble.
Let us hope the media change their discourse & that humanity responds quickly enough in an effort to help everyone affected by such natural disaster.
Man has learnt resilience.
I live in an island not so far from Iceland, where tectonic plates, rifts and volcanoes can be felt at my local level. I wonder how the world would react should it happen closer to us…
Eight years. A drop in the ocean in the planet’s history, time needed to reconvene with a Provençal sunrise.
There is something special with Mediterranean light. At the beginning of spring, deep blue begins to shine and weigh its seasonal hues. The odd clouds still stain its sense of azurite majesty, but with it comes a return to heat waves.
Eight years to enjoy the flowers of trees, the peach (as above in pale pink) and the cherry blossoms. Eight years ago, they felt a placebo onto a wound so deeply rooted in my heart… The kind of wound that needs that amount of time to begin to heal. The loss of a loved one inflicts such a deep hole.
Eight years to reconnect with a world and its places, people and poetics. Such amount of time allows you to rediscover it all with fresh eyes.
What a joy to step back into the old geopoetical sphere, once so familiar – from the colline and côteau to the edge of the Med & the old delta of the Rhône and its wonderful wildlife, via the majesty of Mourre Nègre, top point of Grand Luberon – Giono’s Blue Whale.
Land-, Sky-, scapes, coloured and fashioned for the one who dreams.
Eight years as if it was yesterday.
Bonnieux, Lourmarin & La Vallée d’Aigues, Camargue and Aix-en-Provence feel eternal, steeped into that ancient land. And yet, you feel au pays de la soif…
La terre, as defined by Giono, feels both generous and cruel. It fashions man in many ways. From aridity to madness.
It is certainly home to a plethora of life, wild & tamed by man… And yet it does not feel like home.
And if home is my 60N latitude, Provence remains a rite of passage in my life, with anchored love & friendships I still nurture with all my heart.
Shetland, terre océanne, comme vous ne la connaissez pas – la face cachée d’un bout du monde,
Avec trois portraits bien distincts: Bressay, Sumburgh et Fair Isle, contés respectivement par Jonathan, Kieran père et fils, Neil & Lise. Et même si les visages demeurent familiers à mes yeux d’habitante, tous se rallient derrière une même âme et vision d’un territoire épris d’un océan et d’une mer, auquels nous nous appartenons mutuellement, sans concession.
Cliquez donc sur le lien pour découvrir cet archipel (ou du moins trois de ses facettes) SHETLAND un film de Laurent Cadoret pour une chaîne de télévision francophone.
Peut-être connaissez-vous un peu ces Iles du grand nord écossais en tant que visiteur estival – au carrefour du monde nordique… Eh bien, voici Shetland dans toute sa majesté hivernale, interdite aux croisiéristes pour des raisons de nœuds et tempêtes dignes d’un roman de R.L. Stevenson ou de W. Scott.
Bien sûr, ce documentaire ne fait qu’effleurer l’archipel et sa communauté. Néanmoins, il vous y fera goûter l’iode et vous donnera peut-être l’envie d’y dénicher bien des trésors. 🙂
Contactez-moi donc si le cœur vous en dit. A bon entendeur, bon voyage et que les vents vous soient favorables 🙂
The Federation of Writers (Scotland) is an organisation dedicated to making the written and spoken word available to the public of Scotland, with respect for diversity and recognition of additional support needs. Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) ’S e prìomh-amas Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) litreachas sgrìobhte is labhairte a chur mu choinneamh poball na h-Alba, a’ toirt spèis do dh’iomadachd agus feumannan-taice a bharrachd.