Island Blog – The Still

The air smells of sweetpeas and change. Unlike yesterday’s crazy dance, the troupe is at rest. Yesterday there was enough bluff and bluster to lift a woman’s skirts right over her head, as the wind forced the flowers to bend and twist at his behest. But there was sun on the back of that wind when this morning there is no sign. The silence is eerie beneath a milk sky. We are all waiting in the space that wind created as he blew on to other lands. Straight from the Sahara, someone said, warm and crackling with desert stories. I could feel them, as I walked the Tapselteerie track, touching my skin, wanting in. I hear you, I tell them, even if your language is not mine, even if I cannot translate your words, I hear you. And I wanted to walk further, just to hear more.

In the space, we wait, me, you, the flowers, the trees, the songbirds. The sound of bird carries easy inside a space like this instead of being flung at my ears in a luffing staccato. A bit of Robin, no, wren, ah, no, blackbird, well, just the black of it to be honest as the rest of it rode off on the wind. As I worked in the garden, I noticed again how the flowers move with it. I, on the other hand give myself a hard time pushing against it, forcing my way through, dividing the punch of it into fingers. I pulled out stalks of this or that, now tired of life and turning yellow and watched them skitter across the grass as the wind played mischief. Unrooted, they are as fair game to a bully. I also noticed how, within the natural confines of this little island garden, the wind has to round on himself in order to keep momentum. Out walking in the wide-open, he can get up some speed, chunnelling along the track with only the odd corner to interrupt his fun. Further on, further out, he will meet the sea and then he will be free to lift and swirl and somersault his way for hundreds of miles, his finger plucking at the waves, making them fractious.

I consider spaces, like the one out there today. How easy it is to miss them in our rush for the next thing. Waiting for the forecasted rain, we bring things inside for protection, close car windows, carry down the washing from the green. In short, we fill the space without standing in it at all, without watching the silence of it or hearing its voice. And yet this space, this silence, this sense of waiting, if noticed and considered, is soul food. Life cannot be all wind and noise. There must be calm or we would all be deaf, our bodies exhausted from pushing against the blast, our metaphorical skirts up around our ears. We would hear nothing of the silence, nor understand the space it affords us in order to still our minds, bodies and souls.

I meet a young man on holiday. Attached to his right ear is a mobile phone. At last he has reception and can sort out the glitch in his business back home. Waiting patiently his lovely wife sits nearby. Not so patiently their small son jukes and scoots around the space, longing for action. But dad’s glitch needs immediate attention, then he’ll be done. It thinks me of my own life spent waiting patiently for family time uninterrupted. It happened, but rarely, and it seems the same, if not worse, is the truth today. Work comes before anything, holiday or no. I can see it is the way of life, but I also see it sizzling with danger. In my own experience I could never understand why everyone but family got the best attention. There was never a NO in the mouth of the man should business call, no matter how inconveniently. But there were plenty of NOs for me and the children.

I had rather hoped that would change in a new generation, but it has not. There is little room for spaces, it seems, let alone the time to stand inside them, to still the mental jibber-jabber and to wait for the outside calm to gentle in. Like a garden, stilled, between the windfire and the rain.

One thought on “Island Blog – The Still

  1. Stillness with birdsong and flowers, and a couple of hours in the garden getting my hands dirty, being my own boss – that was my afternoon today, bliss!

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