Island Blog – Tatterlife

Yesterday the air was warm and still and the sun shone like a circle of fire in a right blue sky. T’is rare here and so very welcome. We, who live as islanders in the now of Now, know this and our shorts and suncream come out just like that. There is no Winter/Summer collection of clothing. We find the beach, the forest, the shore, just as the birds do. We do not presume another such day. This day the wind rises, not cold but coming from a source that will turn to South Westerly but not yet. This afternoon the wind is slanty-eyed, mean and punching and the poppies will not last the night for the accompanying rain that batters resolute. These are the days of our life up here and I remember it well, travelling back overtime when being ‘out there’ for the animals and the visitors brought a damp into the evening kitchen. Oh dear, tomorrow there will be people at our door, damp guests in need of warming food instead of the fresh salmon salad with minted new potatoes I had planned. Dawn found me making soup, a contradiction of what was yesterday as they chuckled in frocks and sunlight. But I know what you don’t know yet. I didn’t say.

And it thinks me. I wonder how those who expect Summer to be Summer or any season to be as it was, either in childhood, or just before we finally (good lord) got the hang of climate change. Resistance is futile. We know this. And we still resist. I think about that. Out here inside the sharp-toothed mouth of a volatile Atlantic Ocean, we might be wiser than we thought. After all, we have lived with a dynamic not many could ever live with and for years, no, generations. I get that island roots help and they do, a lot. My own understanding of this came once I discovered that my great grandfather was a lighthouse keeper on Skerryvore, one of the wildest and most isolated of lights and I mean so wild, even when the Atlantic was in a good mood. Ferocious waves and zilch accessibility. My great grandmother, on Tiree must have wrung her hands at every storm approaching. Or maybe not. Maybe she just got the hang of this sunshine calm/ ferocious storm dingbat thing like every other day. A boat will bring mail/people/family/food supplies. Or not. And the Not might be months.

I think we island folk, for all the moaning that goes on about ferries and poppy stripping, are pretty well equipped mentally for the way times are a’changing. I think that everyone should experience life in a wild place. Not not and not again as a holiday home but as an experience. The island, all islands are beautiful in the sunshine days. But there are zillions of poppy stripping days, of roofs lifted in sudden changes, of the slam dunk and crash of nature blasting in, of freak storms, of ferocious and terrifying gales with hours of lashing hailstones that can kill a cow, a deer, a sheep.

But I am glad to know this, to be in the mix of this. Not happy about the scary times but somehow in tune with what I have known for decades. However, this time, this climate change time does alert me like a rabbit to danger. And it is ok. If I am resistant to the change that is a glare in my headlights, then I am a fool and I am no fool. The poppies will be stripped in this sudden wind. And then I will walk out in the calm of the next day, thank them, and let them go. This is a Tatterlife. We are all living it no matter where we are, what we earn, whom we know. It isn’t that life is dying, no. Life is finally asking us to live it.

One thought on “Island Blog – Tatterlife

  1. Even in temperate Southern Victoria, Australia we can go from a balmy, sunshiny winters day to howling winds and falling trees in a few hours. But then, four seasons in one day have never been uncommon here. We are sort of Island people too, it is just a very big island!

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