Island Blog – Fog and Fire

Someone has pinched the outlands this morning. Looking out through the smurry rain it seems they have been lifted from the sea. I can still see a horizon but it is just a line where the ocean and the sky meet, quite without the lift and thrust of ancient rock, of the sgurr, the rounding and the stretch of other lands. Last night I watched the reassuring flash of two lights, their individual pulsing both hope and warning into a darkling canopy. No stars, no moon, no chance for sailors to find their way around this dangerous shore, the well-hidden cuts of solid basalt revealing only the tips of their noses, like someone you don’t know well, one who only reveals a little of who they are. The alarming bit is well concealed below their surface and you only know of it when your boat hits. Sometimes that hit is fatal, for a rock mountain has the upper hand. Unlike you, it remains steadfast and barely scratched. What you do about you is up to you.

The sea is vast and grey-flecked. White ruffs surround the rocks as each wave meets it and erupts in a mini tantrum. The ripples fall away to nothing, becoming a compliant part of the whole once again. As dawn rose like an eastern queen I heard a lorry, or thought I did. Yesterday was the ‘gathering’, for this is the time when lambs are stolen from their mothers and sent to market. And the noise they make about it can keep whole families awake. I remember, at Tapselteerie, feeling a huge weight of guilt, just knowing that the ones who had rented the farm cottages would get no sleep at all. The mothers, bereft as long as they can hear the frantic calling of their lambs, will be led out to another pasture and, by the time a few days have passed and their milk dried, their memories will be whitewashed. Such is the way of sheep.

Gulls fly snow white against the greys as the fog holds tight to the horizon. It’s a living dream, a daylight one, this fantasy before me. I know it isn’t the truth, but it looks pretty truthful to me right now.And, therein would lie my disaster were I to be a sailor out there believing that fog is the truth. It thinks me of friends, of my tribe. I thought that friends were my tribe but this is not necessarily true. Some are, some are not. This learning is freeing me and, from the response I have had re The Great Sadness blog, there are many who might want to find such a freedom. Although we may be continents apart, we know each other. We navigate the fog and the rocks of our lives like all good women do but deep deep inside the belly core of our bodies we know we don’t fit. It feels deeply uncomfortable, this scary knowledge, especially if we have travelled many miles, weary and footsore in search of our own tribe, not really believing in such otherworldly nonsense, but propelled forward nonetheless. At times we even laugh at ourselves, turning back into the safety of what and who we know. This should be enough…..well, shouldn’t it?

No. It isn’t, not for those of us who quest like explorers and who just can’t accept the fog. There are outlands beyond that veil. And the only way to see them, to make land, is to cast off. To set out alone in a small and sinkable boat and to point to the horizon, vigilant for rocks, believing no whitewash and, above all, trusting in the fire of that belly core.

And we can do all of this whilst remaining exactly where we are. For now.

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