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poets in arms

auld enemies 1They came, they shared, they went…

Let’s re-phrase.

They came, they spoke, we shared, they went… We are now connected.

Visiting poets on our home turf – Mareel, Lerwick, Shetland for a few hours – met with familiar faces, thanks to Shetland Art’s Literature Development Officer, Donald Anderson. On a particular trail, that of “Auld Enemies“, the brainchild of Steven J Fowler and Ryan Van Winkle, who notably brought along Colin Herd and Ross Sutherland in the Green Room where a few dared to step for an hour of poetry. Their six date tour around Scotland – taking in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lerwick, and Kirkwall – concluded in London.

So we, the featured Shetland poets, L.J. Friedlander, D.S. Murray, J.A, Sinclair and I, joined our visiting poets in some battles of the spoken word before we ceased fire, chatted and smiled. Unique, electric, unusual & memorable event which enabled us to share in a different format, and, for James & I to actually write together for the first time since we have been united by literature. My thanks go to Steven and Ryan for providing such an opportunity. With very best wishes for the upcoming Auld Enemies – Ireland!!! 🙂

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Auld Enemies, Shetland 2014 - Photo courtesy of Steven J Fowler

Auld Enemies, Shetland 2014 – Photo courtesy of Steven J Fowler

What a trek! Before they came to us, they had pit-stopped in Aberdeen, where they blended with other familiar faces & voices, including those of Catriona McLeod and Haworth Hodgkinson – then they stayed a couple of days, to ensure Mr Melville was okay again – and then they joined in other familiar faces in Kirkwall, notably including Pam Beasant.

My thanks go to Steven and Ryan for providing such an opportunity, as well as to Donald Anderson & Shetland Arts for making it happen on our latitude.

With very best wishes for the upcoming Yes But Are We Enemies? -an Irish Enemies Project

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jardin secret

A woman’s world is her own heart. From the roadside, nothing is visible.

So many times – in between Central and Sandsayre – have I driven & walked past those high walls without notice… Yet in summer, there is a sign, that womans worldreads “Open to the public”. One has to stop and dare to step through the high wooden doors. The creator of this secret Eden on 60N has shimmering eyes and she answers to the forename Margaret. Her heart beats as she leads you through to her secret garden. Very soon you forget you are actually on an island battered by gales, storms or other relentless winds from August to May! All is so secretly guarded by tall fences of all kinds – rock, panels or palettes. Every thing will do in order to grow her world’s plant kingdom… And I heard some trekked as far as from South Africa.

Her welcome is unparalleled. Her verve is insatiable. She speaks of her passion for her vegetal realm you feel enchanted in your heart. It feels you are surrounded by angels 🙂

Some forty years have been necessary to reach this stage of growth. Margaret does not count, even though she is bound to the planet’s own agenda and seasonal calendar – Mother Earth’s own rhythms. Hospitalisation even does not deter our intrepid gardener – she is a survivor who lives for her own world, with her husband & cats. A grand tour of the place is necessary to enjoy the full extent of this woman’s work.

And if you are invited to make a small donation, as a tn’s marked, you will only show your own appreciation of a gardener’s sheer passion in the face of such Nordic latitude. And yet, so possible.

Away from salt and wind, amazing gardens emerge from the roughest of soils and elements. It is a joy & sheer pleasure to step inside!

angelheart of the greenpathwaysinto the bluegardener's homei am in the garden

 

 

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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.

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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 🙂

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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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Le passant

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The animal kingdom is amazing – follow the herd, pack, gaggle or flock for love, the next generation & life.
Never mind money or politics… We, the human kind forgot about nature’s fundamental laws, and invented invisible barriers. The notion of wandering has been caged ever since the concepts of passport control & money were introduced.
And yet the latter is a passer-by. We all have a different – sometimes peculiar relationship with it. Take it away and we would live like princes & princesses. The pursuit of well-being instead of greed & suffering. Rousseau & Thoreau notably wrote clear thoughts on such issue.
Recently, our S2 pupils experienced the wild as part of their John Muir Awards with Curriculum for Excellence. Their reactions ranged from humility to exhilaration when faced with the vastness & majesty of their surroundings. They connected (or reconnected) with our world. They felt part of it.
To the image of the wheatear, I sometimes wish I were a bird, and I would fly above rivers, glens & mountains, somewhat carefree (avoiding predation!) as Earth seasons dictate.

Le passant

Au petit royaume de papier,
de métal émaillé de
cuivre,
il entre & sort,
tel un intrus ou un
voleur…
L’inconnu,
l’ombre du trottoir,
sans odeur,
pli ou
porte-feuille,
Il va et vient tel
un passant sans se soucier des
réverbères, de la couleur
d’un monde amer,
des boutiquiers,
farceurs,
faussaires,
tant il
se
raille
aux rires
du
vent.

-/——–

Passerby

At the peerie paper kingdom,
molten metal copper &
lead,
he slides through
doors,
true intruder,
shameless book
thief;
unknown
shadow
on prized pavement –
odourless,
flawless,
or
homeless,
he comes & goes
he, passerby, oblivious to light or
limelight, shopkeepers,
tricksters or
forgers,
as he
laughs at
the wind’ s laughters.

© Nat Hall 2014

—-
Young people’s connections with encountering our world

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les visiteurs

 Come rain or shine, they come to perch around our trees; court, call, quarrel and congregate, they, socialising animals. Here, a trio of images to celebrate those delightful garden visitors. House sparrows, once a common sight all around the United Kingdom, still thrive on the edge of the realm. They flock to whiz around our homes – females always seem to arrive first at grain feeders… They sometimes flock in numbers up to 25 on alders’ tops. Here, a very devoted parent (male) with a bill full of flies 

Image

“fly hunter” captured yesterday afternoon (3 May 2014)

ImageMr Robin favours a quiet time away from the crowd. Though elusive and so furtive, he perched and posed like a top model. He was heard here and there from March around fence posts… Always a delight to hear and watch.

Image Mrs Sparrow lit by an evening sun, as captured yesterday evening. Delight 🙂   

Surprisingly, starlings are not as visible as usual, with fewer numbers actually coming to perch or feed – even though it is the time of the breeding season, Sparrows appear to have topped the podium so far. No sign of wren either. I wonder if they too have fallen victim to last winter’s continuous stormy conditions…

Although chiffchaff was heard, am still waiting for other visitors, such as bramblings or siskins, to adorn the garden.

Let’s see  what those SE winds will bring this week 🙂

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treasure fae da north (1)

From the hand of RLS, Robert Louis Stevenson,
father of
Treasure Island…

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Filed under 2014, 60N, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, home, images, island, museum, north, project, shetland, writing

stikkit mist

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Stikkit mist is a fantastic Shetlan expression that describes low cloud, wandering around our hills, wicks (square shaped bays and islands from April to (usually) September.
On the fifth day of the fourth month, it has reappeared like a veritable diva, washing off blue from a shameless sky and stirring like porridge in a breakfast bowl… It affects everything on Earth – colours, moods, vision – and not least, travellers at airports (!)
Today did not fail.
As the stikkit mist season begins again, be prepared to play invisible and / or borrow sea ways to experience 60N island life… The experience is unique.
Just like its wildlife 🙂

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magic nocturnal spirits

Aurora borealis, mirrie dancers, aurores boréales, Northern lights have been dancing – and still are, as I type – enchanting the island, my heart and eyes. Giddy, dizzy, such earthly spectacle from our amazing star.

Pure magic 🙂

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Never had it so ethereal! 🙂

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light wanderings

It only takes a moment.
Be in the right place at the right time. Stand up and feel.

Plenitude found in one of those precious capsules of happiness when we align to earth and sea – feel at one with our homeworld.
As life allows, such communion with our land- (or sea-) scapes should not feel privileged moments, but natural ones.

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My nearest safe haven of now remains my local favourite beach. As a longer weekend loomed on the calendar, I took full advantage of it.
So I wandered down to the shore and locked my heart into the now

Here, my homeworld in panoramic 🙂
I had the whole of the beach, sea and sky to myself. I listened to the wind and waves in the shoormal, where sand and shells shift.

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20140227-095430.jpgSheer plenitude in such moments, topped up by magic northern lights way past twilight.

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Thank you for all this wonderful magic!

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fire time

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Tension, excitement, fever reached fire levels from sunrise, as silver helmets, shields, shiny axes and black feathers were expected inside the heart of our high school.
And here they came past 9 a.m.

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Braving storm winds & lashing rain, our young Vikings entered the granite strong institution where their elders once tattooed old footsteps…

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Their replica Viking long ship (known locally as da galley) would wait outside in the carpark.

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On such great day, our brave Junior Up-Helly-Aa squad shone as bright as their shields & their helmets. No need to force the school’s main doors, they knew their welcome would be warm.

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So they gathered & found shelter in between double doors, as crowds of junior pupils massed inside the great assembly hall.
The raven painted on their shield waited to jeer inside all hearts.

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So they brandished their spirit & axes.

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On the signal, they marched with pride towards the packed assembly hall, as pupils met them with applause, smiles & sheer awe. They paraded like true Norsemen, as their elders would do tonight.

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In sheer Shetlandic tradition, they sang the great fire festival song to the pleasure of the crowd; were acknowledged by the whole school before investing corridors, classrooms in a very cheery manner.
Our junior squad did what their elders did. By the evening, they would parade with their torches in the heart of Old Lerwick & throw them in their boat in an effort to defy the wrath & fury of winter & celebrate the sun’s return…
And if you stood by their torches, you saw the mast engulfed in flames.

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Just as their elders did just opposite the flower park.

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