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 the fourth day of the tenth month, I found a way to break my day, sit and obey my headteacher, as she encouraged us to celebrate #nationalpoetryday through the tannoy. To find, read or write a poem on such fine day.
My lunchtime turned so creative. My after-school behind splashed glass, here, at Mareel, to re-draft it and share with you.
And now, our star looks a beacon out of greyness, I have finished what I began.
This year’s National Poetry Day challenged the pen to the theme of change. Already, I contributed to my Federation of Writers (Scotland) by submitting a few lines to a massive collaborative poem which is to be read today, in Glasgow, I believe under the watchful eye and voice of former Makar Andy Jackson, the very man behind it all.
That peerie offshoot adds to the millions of poems written today to celebrate the spoken word.
So, Happy National Poetry Day 2018 fae da island in da far North, and enjoy Change. 🙂
Marcel Proust had his madeleine in France, I have mine in Lerwick!
Falling in love with an island (or any place on Earth) will make you shift mountains and turn a dream into reality.
This certainly happened to Valérie and Didier Pîquer, today’s proud owners of C’est la vie, located in Commercial Street opposite Harry’s Department and the Fort Café (the town’s best Chippie).
An authentic French experience guaranteed from the moment you step in. The décor, atmosphere and a welcome with a smile invite you to a very convivial establishment. Your eyes are drawn to the myriad of treasures ranging from le comptoir to the brioche and other delicacies displayed under glass bells on a table in one corner.
Whereas Valérie comes from Paris, Didier is Basque. A magic blend that brings an amazing 3-page menu on a clipboard! There is something for everyone.
From the famous Croque Monsieur family to the platter of charcuterie, they offer you the best produce. Brioche, madeleines, cookies, gauffres and langues de chat are homemade. If some dishes are directly imported, Didier confided they came from the finest Basque (from either side of the Pyrénées) or French supplier – local artisans.
Each plate feels gastronomical – each bite, an exquisite moment your senses will memorise for a very long time!
Valérie shared her deep delight as clients shared smiles and even their appreciation in French, as it feels such a heart warmer.
Although they only opened to the public on the third day of April, locals and visitors are already flocking in, sampling what C’est la vie has to offer, and the menu has so much to offer.
It is the start of a great adventure!
If you are a fine gastronome in search of some culinary and traditional Gallic delights, just come along and push the door. You will be in for a real treat!
Six wonderful days in the great Scottish city of culture.
Reconvening with friends, meeting old and new ones – treading on flagstones and cobbles uncharted till then…
Book launch, Open Mic’ reading… Now Compass Head introduced, well received and since well shelved in Renfrew Street.
With gracious thanks to Christie Williamson and Hazel Frew for rolling the ball, Chris Tait for a great crack, Basil for homing the verse at tellit slant and orchestrating that marvellous night at the Project Café, and to E for being here all along.
So lovely to meet up with Elizabeth Rimmer at the Clutha Bar for Jim Ferguson’s book launch and blending with Glasgow poets that same night.
So chuffed to share such precious slices of life with precious friends.
Felt so welcomed at the Project Café as well as any public place treaded into. Glasgow shines through the folk who make the place!
The tidal loch remains frozen at Wadbister on New Year’s Day, and it may well stay in this state for a while…
Wadbister is the place where I buried 2017 with good friends & two of their neighbours. I woke up this late morning and breakfasted with my hosts, Sharon and Andy, looking at a brand new sky. Blue, serene, by a garden and bay that homes a wonderful wildlife. If I missed the otter, I was blessed with my first avian visitors – starling, blackbird, sparrow and robin – when an unusual visitor (to our latitude here anyway!) graced the garden, a great tit. What a grand start to the primal day of the year!
By the time I left my friends’ home, a West wind was recolouring the heavens, as light rain showers began to christen the land…
A year of contrasts – a tale of two halves, with its kaleidoscope of emotions – that took my heart across headlands, bays, the English Channel and the North Sea.
A creative year, as it has anchored my pen into this second collection of poetry in the making… Writing on both sides of the North Sea, with a fabulous return to West Norwegian shores last September.
And our descent to Yule marked by the shifting of our AHS to its new 21st building at Lochside, which proved an extraordinary exercise.
Yet October was graced by extraordinary moments, reunions and meetings that began to pave my way into 2018. For this, I feel humble, blessed and grateful to 2017.
Christie Williamson and Hazel Frew, see you both in your great Celtic town in April!
November also graced by new humane and creative connections thanks to friend and poetess Choman Hardi, who made me discover Barbara Cumbers, a kindred spirit based in London, and regular visitor to Shetland. Magic slices of life shared since, including two readings at the Book Fest and in Scalloway.
December crowned by many smiles
The joy of reaching Yule marked with many delights – a poet’s working blurb published in Shetland Life, a poem inside the Yule Issue of the New Shetlander.
The island clad by sun and snow on the eve of a well deserved break.
A peaceful end to a year that felt a real roller coaster, and as the twelfth month was about to draw to an end, a brand new project now at my writer’s table in the translation of a manuscript. Wonderful challenge and task that began on the Eve of Hogmanay.
Thank you, 2017, for your joys and tears, harvest of adventures, new friends across headlands and seas.
Today, on the primal day of the year, there burns a fire in my heart, like a beacon for the twelve months ahead.
Hello, 2018. Let me welcome you with fresh eyes, a shameless smile, heart filled with hopes.
The road ahead feels both very exciting and promising.
A very happy new year to you all, wherever you walk on this amazing planet. May 2018 grant you good health and happiness.
Marvellous moments of lightness, privileged times among paired swans, preening and sharing love in grace at last light… Statuesque haigries (herons) around our bays, the joy to reconvene with our beautiful Earth. I observe them from the distance, with that humble feeling, so intimate the moment. The light is soft, nearly sunset. The air is charged with tenderness and love in that autumnal sense of rawness…
Intimate. So privileged, I feel.
This north end corner of Spiggie Loch gradually welcomes them back, as the Arctic winter dictates. They will flock in and preen, share a few weeds with a few ducks – gather on the shore for bathing and arrange their feathers, and roost by twos… A bit of love inside a world so few can taste.
When it comes to the Nordic connection, the web widens as we network. This is exactly what happened with a kindred spirit from Hamburg, as we began to mingle via Instagram, followed by Facebook. Northwhile, alias Diana Lukas-Nülle, is a lover of all things north, wild, sheepish, travel, design, hearts carved by nature and write. I love the way she speaks about the light, north, snow, Norway or Fair Isle… Whilst she insists how I would love Iceland. Funny how we eventually met in Shetland on her way to the Hebrides.
Photo by Nordicblackbird
This intrepid north wanderer returned to an island she loves and has a pied-à-terre, as she had a contract with a knitting designer and Misa Hay to design this year’s WoolWeek Magazine. On two occasions, we met and shared by the water – in Melby, where we watched an otter playing in the bay whilst we savoured some homemade cake we found and bought from a local box; and at Ninian Sands, where we marvelled at the magic of the Atlantic, a wondrous sky, changing light and the shape of clouds… We spoke deep words, found some hearts fashioned in stone and felt the wings of the maalie, my favourite seabird the Fulmar (Petrel) I love to nickname “Jonathan”, for this long distant relative of the albatross seems to fly for fun – and sometimes at very close quarter!
Some enchanting evening we pursued at my humble hut for a splash of homemade lamb curry and a hope to see Northern Lights after twilight. Of all those moments shared, the one that prompted a poem was triggered as we walked along da shoormal (that area in the shallows…) on that bridge of shell and sand. Diana was combing in search of something specific, whilst I was gathering my own pocketful of treasures.
This prompted the following poem.
For you, D. L-N.,
for your friendship & cunning eye.
On the great bridge of sand and shell,
she untied her shoes and
walked free to
feel the pulse of each sandgrain,
blue of evening and
by the shoormal where dark sand shifts,
she imprinted her higher self,
eyed washed off
vile tides, hunting for
hearts molten in
hearts in shingle, or tidal shaped, among
plovers and sugar kelp –
what the Moon pulls in between
stars, thin waterline,
She came to walk to an island,
she entangled time in
smiled at the world’s greatest tiara,
gifted my hearth with two
her heart and mind still in
She said one day she will own sheep… She’s still to find her home island. In the meantime we share that passion for the Nordic realm – Norway, Norge – island life, light, wild & remote, hearts molten in anything natural and photography.
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.