Island Blog – Winter Eyes, Letting Go, Acceptance

This day another of my beloveds arrived with his family. There is no better looking than into the eyes of someone you love more than you love yourself, more than life herself; someone you would give your own life for without a second thought, without hesitation. The voice I hear on the phone is familiar, yes, its timbre, tone and inflection, but seeing is believing, because a voice can hide the truth. Eyes cannot. I check. He is feeling fine and so is she. Both are working through any pain together and that happies me. I can feel my gut quieting, my heart turning over in bed for a catchup snooze. I may not know what either deal with, but I can feel a confidence in their collective strength.

Now for play. And we do. There are about 50 cousins and two siblings with wives up the track all bursting with excitement at the thought of this connection for just 24 hours. They will make the most of it, for sure. I know my feral family. Every second is precious and play is ‘it’ and always has been. And I am able to join in or to observe, whatever I choose. They know me. They know my heart. They know that I only ever want them to be happy inside each and every moment and when unhappiness hits, I have mama arms and a silent voice because they are more than adult now, more than able to sort their own stuff out. They will have their tidal flow, their own seasons, their own cold, their own warm. When they all left the nest it took me about 15 years to remember this, to let go. I am mama. I am the one who soothed, warmed, held and encouraged after all. But now my needness is a different thing altogether. It is there, always there, but I am not the one to turn it on. My role is to keep my frocks on, my boots at the door, my torch charged, my heart full of fire and my sense of fun at the ready.

It is all in the looking. All in what I choose to see and how I value what I see in the moment. Walking today whilst they all cavorted with little ones, I moved into the trees. Hallo my friends. How much you teach me, even bare and sung out, even with cold bark and mossed up roots. You are in your winter dress, much like me and you are beautiful in such apparent scarcity. But you don’t feel scarce at all, no, for I can see how you still honour yourselves, bowing to the seasonal flow yet standing tall and strong. I crane my neck to see how high you grow, how the symbiosis of the wood works. Pines tallest, Larch next, Beech, the mother tree, ah, the mother tree. I see you hazels growing in impossible places, your roots like an afro hair style over than ancient rock and on down for water and strength. I see the Birches, a guddle of them, holding together and doing the purple winter thing. Are you all watching me as I watch you? I ask this out loud and I see them smile back. I am glad I have learned Winter eyes. Longing for Spring means we miss out on months of beauty, even in faces, rosy cheeks, cold lines beneath colourful hats, smiles that might crack lips, all beautiful, all Winter. There is loss, there is pain, there is death but there is also life. One day, I hope, we humans will learn to accept endings along with beginnings, cold along with warmth, death along with life for it is the very best way to live out our time on this goodly earth. Accepting that our roles change, accepting that transition, however painful, is essential for growth and will be our freedom.

Like the woods, we will be able to accept the seasons without this crazy need for life to be warmly perfect. Life is sharp. Life is tough. But we are born to both. And we are strong, sharp, tough and together, are we not?

Island Blog – The Trees Speak me Friendship

Yesterday lifted into today about five hours earlier than I might have chosen. Sleeping is obviously not my strongpoint. I should know this by now, accept the truth of it but I am a natural believer in a good ending, not because the aforesaid happens to me, but that I happen to it. If my attitude is positive, my diet good, my daily walks beneath the giant trees accomplished, mindfully, then I will sleep and sometimes I do, but on those ‘do’ days I wake in astonishment and rarely expect a replay. Perhaps that’s my mistake.

I dress, pull on my attitude, go through my decisions for the day, squirt perfume, turn to the dark window and look out. I know it is fully dark here by comparison. No streetlights, no headlights, no light pollution at all. I keep looking. There is no such thing as full dark. My eyes adjust. T’is a survival thingy. I can see a bit more, a bit star, a bit moonslice tipping out from behind a cloud for a moment, just a moment. Ah, I say. I remember a time, no, times, walking home from a ceilidh in the village into the pitch black of night in all the wrong kit. I remember the first frill of fear, the fingers of it touching me, shivering me. I remember stopping still on the Tapselteerie track. A mile of this to go, more and a lot of winding and pothole avoiding. Stop. Look. Listen. The trees know where you are. Find them and listen. Alone out there and with the fear sliding off my back, I felt myself come back to me. Bringing all senses into an intelligent one, we moved forward in a new light. I could hear the wind coming from the west, or the east or the south or the north just by the lick of it against my skin and the trees bent accordingly. It thinked me, this bending with a powerful element. I chuckled as I move forward. Of course they, the trees, must learn to move with the wind changes, with whatever each one brings. Otherwise, well, think firewood. Could I, this small and only ‘I’ learn from the trees? Could I be as majestic and strong as they are in spite of wind changes?

I did and I still do. This day after the clouds dumped about 27 rivers on our heads, the sky cleared a bit and that lovely blue appeared, swirled with clouds. Actually, I can feel a bit sorry for clouds. They are at the mercy of all four winds, all four temperamental powers, shredded, clumped together, fluffed up until they get complacent and then pulled apart like rotten cotton and thrown into space. So, the blue came and I walked through the Tapselteerie woods, every single step a memory and yet each step completely new. I stop to watch the beech trees, all sung out and bare, silver trunked and light rooted. Hold tight, I say as I move beneath 100 year old limbs like gifting arms. I hear the squeak of birch branches, the tic tic of brush Hazel, the groan of the giant pines and the song of their needles. Looking up is fine but don’t step forward when you are doing the looking up thing. There are potholes and puddles and things that bring you right back down to earth just when you thought you were Alice or Dorothy.

I think of land ownership. Not that I believe in it. We are just tenants for a while and thus responsible for the land we think we own. I know now that trees care for each other, that a beech tree roots light, that pines go deep, as do oaks, but, as they do their roots find weakness in another species, say a birch or an alder and that root will lift like a strong finger until it holds the weakness, securing it to the ground. Now that is friendship.

And the trees are friends to me.

Island Blog – Reflections, Imperfections,The Wild

Such a strange time of year. The build up to Christmas is so frenetic, so full tilt and then cometh the lull, the pause before Hogmanay. I remember it well, that time at Tapselteerie when crumpets were toasted on devil forks at the open fire, when rules were ruled out and when parents left routines out of all equations. I remember walks into the days with skips and crazy games. I remember the cold and not caring about it at all. I didn’t force my feral kids into jackets nor woolly hats. We just laughed and ran for the Atlantic, her call wild and face-biting. Inside my downy coverings, I pushed my lovely silver flask, a gift from himself and the best I ever received. Whisky and green ginger wine, for the cold, you understand, and to gift a parental kindly pause from the children as they whooped and swooped like birds on steroids over hummocks and across bogs, rocks and slippery kelp to find the end of things; where the land stops, where we stopped, and where forever begins.

Looking out there today, this in-between day, I have an outfall of memories. They spill from my mind and scatter across a land I know as I know myself. They tinkle and sing, they lift into the air and cause me to follow them into the cold bright air. I see them when I look out to the little isles, so clear, so close and yet, as I know, a long boat journey away. I can hear the childish laughter from way back then, from when these, my children were tiny, bouncing over these rocks. I can hear the call of seabirds, see the inlets we landed on, find my slippy way across the basalt and granite and up, up to the sunlight. Now, their own children are tiny and I look into eyes and watch the gymnastics of a face hoping to find myself, himself, the ancients. No longer do I need to be The One in such times. No longer am I expected to present, prepare, plan. It is both a loss and a release.

This in-between morning, I took a saw to a couple of big bushes which, in my opinion, needed culling years back. I cut and wheeched and was pricked and somewhat compromised at times but determined. This may well be the wrong time to prune whatever they were but if they survive and grow again, then good. If they don’t, then good. I am done with the rulebook at this ruled out time of year. I look up to the hillback, the new and open view and I wish them well. You can do this, I tell them, as I have told myself for decades and I did; do this. When ‘this’ changed, as this always does, I know I learned new dance steps, new ways of seeing, new perceptions. That thinking has served me well. When I see an imperfection, according to my perception, I jig my head. Hmm, I say to myself. I want (not need) to look at this with new eyes. Oh, still my own eyes, of course, but slanty or pullback, lifting wider, higher. What this thinking did for me, it still does. From girl to fiancĂ©, from wife to mother, from domestic non-stopper, to feral child releaser, from carer to widow, I am proud of me. I know I strained at the harness, broke it, ran wild, came back (with the wildness) and am still, even now able to stand strong for my beloved ferals and their own little crazies who believe life is every single moment, lived at top volume.

May the wild live on. There are too many people out there who have buried their wild. Wild isn’t a danger, but you might be. To it.

Island Blog – Mud, Shrimps, Fireflies and Reach

It is a funny old time of the year, unique in itself. Something about the twist of one year into the new confounds our thinking. We swivel like kids in a cartwheel from land to space and back to a land we cannot see, but trust is there. We land further on and that further on is unknown to us, in completeness, until our feet meet it, allowing us to rise into a new space. Maybe this space is known to our forebears, to our ancients, to astonished bugs and butterflies that reckoned they had safe passage until our legs thwacked into their gentle lift. We think we know our ground but the turn and twist of a new year confounds us every time. We make resolutions based on shrimps and fireflies. We know who we are. We know what we can do. What we don’t know, our longing longing is what we can achieve based on our inner shrimp. We forget the firefly.

Now, I know, as well as you do, that a firefly can be taken out by oh so many predators. But our concept of fire, of flight, of light is a very uplifting thing. We can fly if we so choose. There are many of us grounded until we feel like we are stuck, not rooting like the tree we so admire in the forest. Just. Stuck. Well let me tell you a thing from the rounded end of a long life, one lived inside more adventures than is good for anybody. If you feel stuck, unstick. I know, I know, the world, the mud, is strong. It has a voice and it has depth and thixotropy. In other words, it won’t allow any breakdown. But you are stronger. And the key is to approach everything with curiosity and as an adventure.

I’m going to do the mud thing. I/we watched a beloved heavy horse sink into a bog inside a snowstorm and on an Atlantic rock crop with no shelter. She had reached, and walked for the first shoots of green after one of our very long island winters, and foundered. The sinkmud took her. But we are not horses. We have two legs and huge brains and can swerve and swift anyway we choose, and there’s the rap (whatever that means).

We have a new year. It is coming. We can plan the impossible or stick with the possible. In other words we can plan without authority. We can sigh and throw our hands up because we feel mudstuck inside our lives. Or, and there is always an “or”, we can firefly. We can stop. We can say, No More. Even if it means things will be tough for a while. Even if we cannot have the luxuries we have heretofore enjoyed. Even then. Together we can do this change from mud to firefly. And that already sounds cheesy.

What I am saying to any soul who longs for something impossible, is this.


Island Blog – Family, Christmas, Moments

Suddenly I am surrounded by family, with a large number of little girls all fizzing like champagne, or maybe it just feels like a large number of little girls because they are in constant motion from dawn to the point of parental collapse. Thank goodness for long walks and puddles. And today, on Christmas Eve, we walked them well. The littlest one set off in pale pink and was returned looking like we had dipped her in milk chocolate. Happy, filthy, rosy cheeked and with two new nonsense songs in their music banks.

For this combination of family, celebrations last 3 days, 3 nights. Today is Swedish Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas Christmas and the day after is one granddaughter’s birthday. By the 27th we will all need a big sleep for sure. I remember the last time we had this three day feast and fun, when four of my five kids came to the island, Africa not permitting. I wonder, even now, at my foresight in arranging this. Did I know somehow it was to be the last for himself? Perhaps. By then he was faltering, unable to tolerate the noisy little girls for long, struggling to eat much or to swallow. But, he joined in when he could and for short periods, preferring to sit at home alone in his own chair listening to radio 4 or watching something on his laptop. This will be the second Christmas without him and it is a relief he is gone, if I am honest. He was a poor thing by the end and it was kind of Death to gather him into such gentle arms.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy Christmas. Don’t miss a moment with every family member you are lucky enough to have nearby. Nothing else matters. Nothing at all.

Island Blog – Dance Life

I have listened to Christmas songs, tunes, melodies for a few days now. I can catch the Christmas spirit effortlessly, ready always to dance, to tinsel up and to twinkle along with the lights. I have the celebration gene, thanks Mum and Dad. At times, this spirit kaboom can be an awkward thing as I look into blank faces when I rapture on about birthdays, first days, anniversaries. I read those faces. What is it, that look that tells me those people need a hug, not that I can give them one just now, because they have agreed to give up on living the Dance of Life? Honestly folks, if we cannot dance till we die, are we dying to dance? Yes, I believe so. Just look at the followers of Strictly Come Dancing. There is something magical about the fleet flight of dance, especially with a partner who can lead, who can follow. I remember ballroom dance classes when I was at school and although it was all about the boys for me, the feeling of being inside strong arms, guided, swirled and lifted, was indeed heady. I also recall being at my daughter-in-law’s 40th birthday and of dancing alone, a lot, as himself was no longer able to join me and then, out of nowhere, came this young man who really knew how to lead a woman. We spun into flight and I will never forget that dance. Never. I had no idea of the steps, but that is the thing about a good partner because he does.

So, in short, I am still a child, that little girl who grew into an adult body but brought the Alice with her. It isn’t luck, nor a gene because we all have them and many genes can be ignored, or denied, or changed. No, it is a decision, a stronghold on what I believe makes life a dance, a joy and joy is deep rooted. It starts as a seed, no matter the troubles, the noise pollution, the location. We are all able to overcome. all of us. I have witnessed an old woman, determined to go search for whales, with legs that might as well not have been attached to the rest of her. I have heard her voice. Just lift me, just get me on board. The tide was low, the pier high, the hesitation evident in the faltering of her companions. Come ON! she admonished. Think dance! I was a young woman at the time and she was compromised but she showed the spirit and in doing so she taught me. I remember walking away as the boat left the pier, watching her on the disappearing bows of the whale boat and thinking this. I want to be like her. I will be like her.

That decision has stuck with me throughout the years. Oh, hell yes, I have moaned and grumbled. I have miserabled my trudge through the tough times. I have wailed and thwacked walls. Once I took a broom and thwacked out 3 huge kitchen windows. I have felt low and lower but I did sow the seed and the seed remembered being sown and, in grace, pushed up green and that is the miracle of a decision to dance life. Life becomes my partner, the one who appears from nowhere when I am dancing alone, a lot, and takes me in his arms and off we go.

In the build of Christmas, the most magical mystery of all, remember dance. But there’s more. Grab the spirit, the dance of it and just refuse to let go. Live it, no matter what.

Island Blog – The Luckiness

Oh we are so very busy, so fraught, so flapdoodle about Christmas. I remember being all of the above back in the last century when my five feral kidlings wreaked havoc in as many ways as they knew, and they knew many ways. Their excitement was loud and fraucous, high pitched and very fast. What happens to legs, I ask myself, as I cautiously descend the stairs and never jump anything over 12 inches high, remembering the blur of Child as it tore through a room causing even the wine glasses to fall over in the afterwrath of such a cosmic blast? When I was ‘busy’ and responsible for everything Christmas, the presents, the wrapping, the dressing up of the 20 foot tree with its point pointing to the floor because the ceiling just wouldn’t lift to accommodate, the star hanging down land twinkling like the drip from an ancient and cold nose, my legs were right beneath me and as fast as any cosmic child. I was lucky to have legs at all and so was my family. Had I been legless, the whole lot of them would have effortlessly escaped the rule book; probably burned it along with the logs that were more like tree trunks. At least my fully functioning and agile body could prevent disasters, catch the ferals to spin from room to room averting disasters such as the 20 foot tree falling on the sleeping dogs, cats and pet lambs and who let them in btw? Don’t give me ‘Aw, they’re cold’ or I’ll just cook them.

Now in my pensioner days, I rush not, nor am I busy. That chaotic life is in my past and thank the holy crunch for that. No more must I panic about stocking gifts, other gifts, in-law gifts, writing a zillion cards to a zillion people and the annual freak out about serving up a Griswold turkey; the making sure that the in-laws, who invariably arrived in an argocat with a bumper laundry basket filled with well wrapped gifts settled into chairs aligned just right, candles at the ready, lambs definitely out and who brought that crow in? Atop the tree, well, not actually at the top because we all know where the top is, but in the tree nonetheless and shrieking worse than any child. I had to blow out all candles at that point. The thought of feathers alight gave me indigestion in my imagination and that is not a comfortable feeling. Ah, such a past. So many adventures. Such a lucky woman. My life, our life, would kick the Griswolds into second touch, for certain.

When I write that I am not busy, let me explain. My days are always engaging and active. I stack wood, I walk, I clean, I write, I sing and I dance, but the have to, that pushy crow-shout in my ears is quiet now. I can do what I like when I like. Sometimes I don’t like either of those but I can still perform the tasks and there’s another word I like. Perform. Thinks me of my non-existent stage life. Did I tell you I was offered theatre work and turned it down to marry himself? Well, I did, and I regret it not. In fact, my agility and ability, both physical and mental as a stage performer, storyteller and activist (a good one) has supported my life as wife, mother and now grandmother. Lucky me. When I take a wee wander back through time there is a lot I forget until out of nowhere a memory lifts like a swan from the water and I watch it fly up, up into the vast blue sky and I smile. I was there. I was her, that woman, that wife, that mother, those times are mine to treasure. I also recall the stomps and stamps and slammed doors, one of which fell off its hinges with the force of me. I am proud of that even though, at the time, it was of great inconvenience.

This morning I tootled into the harbour town for fuel and fish. I really don’t know why anyone ever bothers with going off island as everything anyone could ever need for feed is grown right here. As I lifted into the mist, the mist flashed with sunlight, the frost sparkling on the grass and on my little mini, along the empty switchback road, I passed the grave, the new headstone. I stopped the car and watched it for a few moments. There it is. There you are, facing the rising sun and with a view you always loved. T’is right and rightful. T’is your landing place and it will be mine too, one day. There’s a new grave. I knew that man, that quiet, gentle man. He is gone too. I wonder if you and he have encountered each other yet. I like to think so.

The town was quiet. The shops alight, their windows dressed in baubles and gifts and mostly empty; the town lights all a’twinkle, few cars parked and only a few islanders on the street. Not like the old days, in the last century when the pavements would be buckling beneath the feet of those with gift lists, stocking lists, in-law lists; those collecting food and fish and turkeys and chocolates, when ‘on’ and ‘line’ were two words that never went together. Well, now they do and we are lucky to have that option at this time. Now let’s go otherworldly. Beyond our fuss and fret, beyond our rush and our busy, what is the voice of Christmas? Is it love, is it giving, is it peace, is it sharing what we have? When the packaging is burned, the toys broken, the meal devoured, even a Griswold meal, what are we left with, the something that will succour us through the Big Cold Months yet to come?

The moments. The pictures, we remember, the affection and the warmth, the rebirth, even if I raise the busy and the frantic. I remember it and them. They had their place in my remembering and they are so much a part of it all. However, they are just part of the structure of just one day, and just one day can create ripples. We know this. What we need to learn is the wholeness of everything, including Christmas Day. There will be ups and there will be downs, and in that intricacy, there is a landscape. Rest in the whole. Look at the bumps and the awkwards, the imperfections and the exploding turkey and smile. We are who we are and we are just perfect just as we are. Just as we are. Lucky us.

Island Blog – Because she cares

The farrago is clearing, as if, as if, I move through it, like a fog that eventually gets fed up of all that fogging nonsense and puffs itself out. The path ahead becomes clear, or clearer. It takes a moment or two to re-align my eyeballs with this new clarity as the density of unseeing becomes vision. A human falter. But we know how to survive and suddenly. When fog clears, our senses are heightened. We adjust. We must adjust in order to move on intelligently. But, we cannot always rely on self, on the aloneness of the singular, not in all situations. Because I was lost in the turmoil and fear of fog, I spun like a dervish without intention, without a plan. So, I reached out. I called my sister. I have three and each one is wise in different ways. This one is beautifully pragmatic with a can-do attitude, cautious but never compromised by caution. She investigates it, thinks it through, pulls it apart and studies it. I came to her like an unravelling jumper and she, well she, did not knit me back up again. She just saw, immediately how I felt. She is not afraid to speak and I felt so much better after our talk. It was like I came down from some planetary freak out.

It thinks me. I know, have always preached, that we need each other, that reaching out for help as we feel we are drowning, is not a weakness but a strength. However, I did feel foolish at first, me, the older sister, needing a guide through the fog, my personal fog. Then I did what she does. I looked around me at the complex thixitude I had made all by myself and for myself, I thought it through and studied it and I smiled. It takes someone else, a one you trust with all your fears and failings, your admitted weaknesses no matter your age or place in the pecking order, to hold out a hand and to bring support.

The words ‘help’ and ‘support’ took on a different shape for me in the caring years. They came as crutches and support bars affixed to walls. But I need to re-jig my thinking on that and to remember that there are times in every single life when we need to trust another enough to tell them how we feel. Yes, it means unzipping our breasts for a full revealment and I get that it is something we would rather not do. I felt it and for a whole foggy week. But, I have learned and am still learning that, no matter how experienced we are, how apparently wealthy, how strong, how much of a leader we have become, we are human. We meet fog. We meet fear. And, when we do, we must reach out to someone we trust, someone who we once guided but who now might just lift us up just because she cares.

Thank you my sister.

Island Blog – Farrago, A Walk, A Widow

I feel like I am walking backwards in terra incognita. I might thwack into Rara Avis, a hippogriff, a chimera, a story I cannot read, nor understand. I recall walking backwards into a lamppost once, and it hurt. My head spun a whole web leaving me feeling foolish and a little sick. It’s not so different now what with the re-run of Covid restrictions. We could move Christmas to June, I suppose, when the days are balmy and warm and quite unacceptable for the virus. Even my thisitive ponking is hiding in the attic and the windmills of my mind are moving too slow to grind the corn. Everything is so very confusing. But it’s not just that. It’s the longness of it all, the slogging grind of endlessment and with no wide horizon out there as a promissory note.

As I bounce into each morning, which I do, I meet the morning, usually half way down the stairs, in the place where Winnie the Pooh stops to think, or gets dropped by Christopher Robin. I never worked out which. The morning is most gracious, meeting and greeting me like this. It must be so much more rested in normal homes where folk rise with the light in a big fat panic because they can’t find their cufflinks or their art homework or their gym shoes. In this house the morning is never a panic, not any more, even if I do recall a few in my past life. What are you thinking? asks the morning as we meet in a socially distanced greeting. Oh, I reply, shucking off the dreams and turning to watch them scoot back up to the bedroom where they will plan another show for tonight….mostly Covid worries. Ah, yes. Of course. Well, you know you have to make your own decisions about what you do within a farrago. I nod. Coffee, I say, heading for the kettle which is also getting used to being woken early. I pass a lodger, hanging from her web, and I greet her. She isn’t fussed at my looking. She knows I won’t hurt her. I only swipe at the old webs, blackened by fire dust and long abandoned.

I walk with a friend and her dog. We plash through the puddles, noticing and commenting on the way the island sucks up any amount of rain, allowing it fraccess to slip-aways and into burns and water scurries, all finding the sea eventually. We will never sink, not this rock, not these island people with their stout boots and heart-strong spirits. We talk of life, of Christmas hopes, of Covid fears, of how we have managed to refuse defeat, even if we sometimes dip our heads into our hands and feel like nomads without any physical ground to traverse. It is all happening within our minds, the doubts, the confusion, the halter that tightens daily. And here we have control, as long as we exert that control. But, but and but, I twitter at her, I just don’t know what to do, what to decide. I, in theory, have family coming. I am longing for them. I don’t want to stop them. I would like to be a woman who is easy with the vast expanse of life but I am also engaged fully with the minutiae of life. Of course I flaming am! I was a wife, am a mother and grandmother and I learned quickquick that this was my role. If life had been down to himself, the whole scatterment of children would have spent their lives in the trees or floating out to sea in inappropriate boats. They would never have washed nor cleaned behind their ears. Their diet would have been white sliced bread and a fry-up, three times a day. Good Lord, of course I was all about the minutiae. However, this learned behaviour trips me up nowadays, particularly in these nowadays, inside this farrago, this dissolution of life as we knew it.

It wonders me. What, if (let’s play) I had become a widow in ordinary times, those times when we could go anywhere, see anyone, travel freely, guffaw around tables sharing breaths? Gosh, it might have been so much easier to walk a widow’s way. Maybe she would have found herself a bit quicker. Maybe after all that fannying about with minutiae, she might have pulled on her dancing shoes and spun around lampposts, spun new webs, spun just for the fun of it. Maybe. Ah, but I am open to learning, no matter the times. Perhaps these tougher times will find us stronger, more autonomous, more ready to outgo when outgoing is once more the normal. Farragos, in my experience, lose momentum and fade away eventually. Now why is that?

The human spirit is why. We are, let’s be honest, indestructible.

Island Blog – Drips, Droops and Defiance

I got drips. No, sorry dad. I have drips, less than of old but drips nonetheless. I quite like hearing the plash of each one falling into the enamel jug placed in place. I had to poke a hole in the plaster above the window recess last year. Actually, I have to do that poking thing every year until the plaster sags like an old woman with little to define her younger contours. I pull it all down, revealing the hen stone, the beginning of this sturdy place, the stones that protect me and many before me and then I reach out to a plasterer and the whole thing begins again. However, there used to be buckets here some 19 years ago, and everywhere, in doorways, mostly in doorways where an old 3 foot wall argued with the efficacy of whatever modern attachment attached itself. Poorly, it seems. Windows allow ingress, depending on the wind direction and puddles appear on floors. I look up. Seems logical but nothing is logical around drips. Water will in, no matter how clever you are and in homesteads built circa 1830 you are battling with just too much and it is so much better to catch the plash rhythm and to dance with it.

I empty the jug once, twice daily depending on the wind direction. It slightly bugs me that the wind has all the say in the matter, but then there is always someone who has all the say in the matter and I know that place. The rest of us work around the sayer, to a degree. We are canny, nonetheless, finding a dance that works for us, that makes the situation less rigid. I look around the rest of my room, of my home. No leaks. Just this jug-gler one, controlled until the plaster comes down. Accepting what is, even recognising and then acknowledging it, is what works for me. I have, with builder help, found the source of many leaks. This one is challenging me. She, must be a ‘she’, is telling me something. Check the outside. Check the mortar. In the olden days, there was lime in the mortar. This building could have housed King George 1V, had he travelled to the islands. Lime was a marvellous thing back then, as all new things are marvellous until they’re so not.

As we move from the old to a new we really don’t want, there will be leaks. I leaked today, here, in the wind and rain and alone. There is nowhere for these tears to go. I drooped, I confess. We face, and we do ‘face’ an uncertain future. Our fears, our lime mortar is crumbling. Our resolution is to dance but we also need to dig deep into the truth of what life is, this new life. We can decorate the inside, jug up the leaks, play positive and all that is really important, just as long as we get what is happening and grab it by the throttle. This is how it is. This is Defiance. The knowledge of what is and the fight for freedom in spite of it.