Tag Archives: 2012

Arcania by the Wood

photo Arcania has many places – from its northern edge by the great northern ocean to its more southern edge, closer to the warmer shore bathed by a star we call our sun. Not that its north end never sees it, but a difference in latitude makes subtle changes, especially in winter, as light dimmers in various ways and lingers a little longer…

Trading salt for berries

For the very first time in moons, I traveled back south of the vol de nuitancient wall – that once separated the wild & rugged north from its greener and gentler slopped south – in order to reunite with loved ones. I left my island tip in a storm at twilight to fly away from Force 10 winds. The whole journey proved a wild adventure from the start. In between flights, I paced myself. I was so eager to arrive and look through the eyes I last gazed at four years ago. And then, on approach to my destination, broken clouds let me remember how populated south is, as Tinsel City unveiled itself a few minutes before landing. However, this was not quite my destination, which lies on the edge of the wood, in between two hillsides, where spirits wander free from tarmac and concrete.

arcania by the wood [2] Every morning has its birdsong, every twilight, its majesty. How I longed to be reunited with this corner of Arcania. A (southern) Woodsman’s world where fire roars in between logs, smiles and orange. For Arcania has many faces too. Every square of it has its own dwellers. My hosts opened their door for a special Yuletide.

I love Arcania by the Wood.

We trudge back through time and brown leaves, h0ld kissing gatesloyal Braxie at every stage and admire every now. Led by loyal Braxie the golden Labrador, every walk turns a new quest. For the first time, we walked beyond the Fairy Tree, as young ones grow and wish to trek beyond its edge. We sometimes walk by Hideaway Cottage to avoid the main road;

bicycle at hideway cottage

on the edge of the wood

inside the wood with moss and leaves

stumbled through miles of mud, blackberry bushes and dead leaves, before we reach its edge. The wood is also home to clawed, furry  and scaled creatures, so dear to Arcania. As we cross a footbridge, scaled   ones welcome us at eye level… Their many eyes focus on us. You do not really notice them at first sight, since they camouflage at leisure. Others hide under piles of leaves, and remain there until twilight… Their coat of armour shines beneath the shafts of light, that add colours to the ground.

arcanias dwellers [6]

arcanias dwellers [4]

arcanias dwellers [5]

They are the guardians of the forest floor. As night returns, children are warned to stay in the safety of their own cottage, closer to their hearth, as the wood turns into a forbidden forest, where colder spirits wander free among the nocturnal dwellers. Higher up towards canopy level, owls & other birds of many enchant every tree.

arcanias dwellers [1]

 A single encounter with either of those wild creatures could cost you a limb or two. But the fiercest of all, wander loose around trees. It is said to be so territorial and fierce, others keep well away, even the three-meter dragon that seeks its solitude among mud and dead leaves. So we watch where we trudge and stravaig! Always further, where we seek light, the wood offers an opening.

Arcanias dwellers [3]But Jae-Jae the big cat knows every inch of the old wood. he will scent you and use his stealth to check you out. Braxie has flair to detect him. During day time, he will not strike, as Arcanians wander without fear from the sun.

Now, we have reached edge of the wood. Rolling hillsides and on the other side of the woodenclosed trees define more open countryside. It is warmer and enchanting. In the distance, red kites glide through the eddies and make the most of winter light. Voices gather at edge of fields and walk together to the road. We come back home in time for lunchtime or for tea.

The wood is home to light and darkness – its beauties & its beasts, but when night comes, it is time to enjoy the moon behind glass, as I too stay warm among my kind after twilight. Every woodsman knows that.

And until my return to my northern shore, my Arcanians will share their home, for they have a great sense of love and warmth.


Filed under 2012, Arcania, celebration, colours, december, geopoetics, home, images, spirit, Uncategorized, winter, writing, Yuletide

on my way to Yuletide

Yule Spirit Friend, columnist & writer Marsali Taylor offered me an e- advent calendar to help me go through the dark times of December. Even though religion’s not my thing, I embraced her present with a certain degree of joy, for I know it came from her heart. Marsali’s just like me – a tough cookie when it comes to be resilience in life; a great spirit and a heck of a pirate when it comes to seafaring! Haha, my dear Marsali, yes, am talking about you! Where did our friendship begin? Was it at The Westside Writers’ Group? I love the way our lives entwine – from words to pages into  books. In have to confess Death on a Long Ship will travel with me this Yuletide. It may travel by air instead of sea, but I shall delve into it away from the island.

For the very first time in years, there will be no holly wreath on my door. Twenty sleeps left until my familiar shore and favourite sandbridge roar away from my feet.

frosty morning If I’m longing to re-unite with loved ones, I am enjoying each sunrise & sunset from my lofty latitude – every moment of now that bathes inside light – let it be glimpses from a low-lit sun, beam or candle. Sunrise remains my favourite moment, as dawn vanishes with Venus. Whether I enjoy it from the heights of Setter (looking SE towards Mousa, or from The Sletts in Lerwick, it is precious, like a rare stone. I can never imagine a moment away from the edge of my world without light… However the low the sun may glow, currently flirting the edge of my horizon, it is a star that defines us, you & I, on this Earth. Today, in the face of more Arctic conditions, I adorned the edge of the composter with nailed apples, for the starlings, that (like pirates) dilapidate the dangling bird food for sparrows I had attached to tree branches on the previous morning. Mister Robin joined in the feast.  How delightful! Sadly, I have not heard the wren for a while… And as my world neared roosting time, I counted over twenty garden birds perching on the alders & roses, feasting like kings and quarrelling like kids (!) The price of survival in such harsh conditions remains a daily set of jousts. Earlier on this afternoon, in between snow showers,  I littered my area of No man’s land with unwanted soup leftovers. My avian friends are not fussy and will accept all offerings! Gripped inside a thin layer of ice, the grass felt like cardboard when treading on long blades.

my nordic shore I imagined a winter’s tide, when the Atlantic wrecks the very bed in the shoormal and vomits kelp, like a greedy Pantagruel.  Master Rabelais (with whom I humbly share my birthday!) still echoes in my heart, after all those years away from my lycée years in Aix-en-Provence, where, Madame Silve, my French Literature teacher, introduced us to such giant, who, like his father had impressed me. The very essence of geopoetics from this time… Walking the shore after a storm rekindles light. I promised myself to walk that edge before I go.


Collaborative work with Jacqui Clark (NTS Ignition) and with James Mackenzie (ArtiPeep’s Project) are flourishing with grace. Verse has reached each artist and creation can follow. As for the verse collection with D Allard from New Brunswick, Canada, I wait for words from Broken Jaw Press. Look for it at the bottom page. Until tide turns, the hyperlink sleeps in shallows… Twenty sleeps till the magic of Yuletide, with unknown rocks along the shore. I’ll always love the dark jade sea, from wherever I stand. Must be flowing inside my Norman veins. 🙂


Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, colours, december, earth, geopoetics, home, island, poets, project, snow, white, winter, writing

end of day

 At the other end of November’s spectrum comes indigo. Saturday shone till it majestically vanished inside headlights. If starlings own most of the day, together with curlews, common gulls, blackbirds and sparrows, dusk and night belong to the geese. At such a time of year, I love to drive into the night from the very edge of my world, Ninian.

As I was tidying the boot of my car – then filled with sandgrains, bruck (trash) and poetics from the beach, together with old verse left in an A4 envelope and  hiking boots – I noticed clouds had turned the pale colours of flamingoes. My eyes focused on in the SW direction. Time to catch today’s sunset! On a nearby fencepost, a starling performed a fabulous solo, as an alto apprentice. So I left my township, armed with my lens and best fleeces. Under fifteen minutes, I reached a perfect orange glow from the top of Bigton Farm. If Dragon Head looked was already engulfed inside a dusky blue, Ninian’s holms silhouetted like polished gem stones, backlit by a daring evening sun. Black fleecy hat and mitts were de rigueur.

 A first glance  from the top kerb, all began to show the magic of Arcania.

The tide was high and its magic synchronised rollers engulfed the very sandbridge that leads to the island. From the distance, I imagined the sheer power of rollers engulfing the dragon that sleeps near the edge at the north side… So I wandered down at slow pace. And reached the edge of evening at the edge of the sand. Walking the shore that felt like very soft – as soft as descending winter light itself. Now and again, the Atlantic leaves traces of delicate lace at your feet, and come to drape sand as a shawl or a petticoat.

 The mighty North Atlantic leaps without shame to the centre of the sandbridge, like wild fire would engulf desert bushes, leaping over ditches. I know I cannot fully walk across, so wet the sand & restless tide… Before my eye, the turtle-shaped island lies inside blue that we call dusk. It’s not yet 4, but Arcania slides into shades that will gradually unveil Venus and later the whole of our Milky Way. I am not racing against time, and merely listen to water. I paused and turned like a wind rose, as waves offered a spectacle that never fails to marvel at. Spray flies very high in the wind. It wanders like scores of mayflies above a river or lake infested with summer evening. Mesmerised by the this whole moment, I stopped and listened to evening. Redshanks and ringed plovers made themselves scarce, although a trio of waders flew through the spray to reach the edge of the island. Somebody asked, “what’s an island?” I once answered in a poem the many faces of the word. 

Now, we reached the point of no turning back. Our closest star has retreated below this Nordic horizon.   A darker hue of indigo begins to fill this winter sky. I need  to walk back to the side of the biggest island.On my way back to the dunes, a woman walked to the widest part of the beach with an infant. I caught their silhouettes and smiled. I take they too wished to see the end of day by the sky- and waterline. And by the time I reached the top of my sandbridge, the time in between  the end & beginning – or the ticking & the talking clock, as Kate would put it –  tolled in my sky. Soon, too soon now, time to drive back to the warmth of my own hearth.

Until a new dawn takes over, we’ll have to make do with the mystery of darkness – time of earth spirits, magical creatures of the cairns, water horses inside surf. Every fencepost along my road turned a saluting soldier on parade. On the eve of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, my thoughts remember their bravery & sacrifice. Inside night, geese call in their flight. They too need to find their own way to live and survive through the mystic of nocturne.

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Filed under 2012, Arcania, atlantic, colours, geopoetics, home, images, island, magazine, ninian, north, shetland, shore, spirit, winter, writing

Photographic portfolio updated

A triptych of blueness added to the portfolio today.

Please click on the link:

Nordicblackbird c/o Redbubble 

Thank you for visiting 🙂

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Filed under 2012, 60N, celebration, colours, geopoetics, images, project, shetland

magnet & poussière d’étoiles

 …as healing from the stars

October throws so many surprises on wet sand. Light, dim, golden as honey, when not chaotic among clouds, allows for moments of pleasure around the many faces of Arcania. That light will shine for those who dare feel its magnet and tread the land without fear or disillusion.

Give me freedom and I shall lace up my own boots, and walk the shore with heart & pride!

 Only a few days ago, I shared my world with two souls from the austral world – Dawn & Larry, fae Australia. For their first time on the island, I wished for them to share my very sense of place. Last Thursday night, I came to find them at dinner. Last Saturday & Sunday, I shared with them the magic of my wilderness among peatlands, harbours, old stones, looms and kelp. Larry, aka Cullodenmist, gambled a trip in October to marvel at the Northern Lights. His love of boats broadened his smiles as he found his lens in between wood and rivets! Dawn’s a spinner & a textile artist. With Wool Week in full swing, she would stand a good chance to share her craft with northern kindred spirits! Whereas Saturday began with an exploration of Scalloway & the Westside to Sandness, Larry got his fingers clicking without shame. En route to the most westerly point of the island, we pit-stopped at the Bonhoga for Dawn’s pleasure. A special exhibition – entitled the swap box – could only please her heart. And so it did 🙂 .

On my first day of freedom regained, I joined them with my natural joie de vivre and led them to the magic of the island. To my relief, the sky was with us. Blustery in places, even though blue dominated every skyline. From the ancient capital to Sandness… Larry fell in love with this wilderness that unveiled itself before him. He repeated  how he could live in such a place. I smiled and clicked. Dawn marvelled at each resting sheep by the roadside…  In between peatlands and deep blue, Saturday felt an adventure they would not forget for a while. However, their excitement for aurora borealis overrode sleep. And by Sunday, they decided to make the most out of Lerwick part of the day. So we meandered through Fladdabister for morning light over old crofts , Wester Quarff & Clickimin Broch before investing the boat shed at The Shetland Museum & Archives! Although Larry later confessed he was not a fan of museums, he yielded to the magic of Hay’s Dock without a doubt or question mark. Whereas I was distracted by Bastet exhibited in the foyer, he disappeared inside Robbie Tait’s magic workshop! Dawn stepped inside the Education Room for a quick look at the Wool Week event she then discovered was for kids and joined us back within minutes… I let them wander at their will and invested Robbie’s shed. Clinker of all shapes & sizes never deceive eye and lens. Playtime for those who love planks & rivets, the smell of wood, tar and wood dust. My heart rekindled Humblyband.

 …A freak shower made us retreat at Mareel for a hot chocolate before we headed to the nearby North Road, as Dawn was to buy wool  at Jamieson & Smith’s and then head to the Textile Working Museum housed at the Böd of Gremista, where we would have lunch. Ideally situated by the Lerwick Marina, I knew both man & wife would find their respective sense of happiness. Larry had boats, Dawn, wool and looms!

As tiredness amplified, we retreated to the comfort of our own bases. I vowed to greet them at the airport on the following day before their flight home to the other half of the world. Larry swore he would be in bed by 1800… Both were already in travel mood. They may have failed to gaze at the Northern Lights, they nonetheless enjoyed the opening of my northern world. Larry and I could not believe we sat and spoke photography side by side, instead via our Redbubble Community website. Somehow, I still feel it like a fresh dream. They must have reached Singapore as I type. We are both grateful to Redbubble for such meeting in the flesh! 🙂

Earlier today (Wednesday 17 October)

 My dear sandbridge never fails to attract my eyes and prints deep inside sand. Last night, a friend told me to walk it once again, as she noticed I did not tread it for a while… She added with a smile the sky would turn in my favour. So I geared up this morning, and made my way to Arcania. Its very thought feels a hansel (present). And found the whole of it to myself! The stretch of sand belongs to the Atlantic and its avian dwellers – ringed plover, knot, turnstone, raven, hooded crow, fulmar, as well as winter visitors like long-tailed ducks. It was magic. Sea rockets may have vanished with summer, treasures to be found every time!

And by the time I walked back to the car, much sombre skies announced freak rain.  How I love the island in October. It feels a magnet in its myriad of clouds and light.

I am still thinking of Larry and Dawn, on the other side of the equator. Within a few days, they crossed seasons, oceans and found themselves on the most northerly latitude. 60N. Larry wanted it all on his first trip – Mousa, puffins and Northern Lights! He will need to return to see the summer side of this boreal world.

Arcania really feels a magnet! In the meantime, I shall stay put for Aurora borealis and starry nights.


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Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, birds, boats, celebration, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, ninian, seabird, shetland, shore, spirit, writing

northern night

my northern sky tonight


Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, aurora borealis, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, island, north, spirit

nordic night

I live and love through the magic of boreal nights.
“Simmer Dim”, “simmerdim”, summer night without black, milky flow of our stellar clefs pinned for our eyes,
hearts & reason,
or simply

In absence of low cloud cover, we unveil ourselves to the magic
of true blue –
the distant obscure
lit up
sun to remind us
we may begin to slide off
from summer,
but we
still obey to fire.
Our homeworld shines
amid a curtain of indelible stars.


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Filed under 2012, 60N, celebration, colours, earth, festival, geopoetics, home, images, island, north, shetland, simmerdim, spirit, writing