Island Blog – More than, less than

I am all about words, concepts and life choices that augment. In these times of so called lack, even if our gone generations are currently sniggering, we all need to believe in growth, personally. Mostly personally. Spring will come. Sun will shine. Streets will clear and flights will fly. But we, we, must look to ourselves as we have never done before; not in our lifetime #gonegenerationsnigger. There is much talk about connecting with nature, from me too but it thinks me of those who have no nature in their immediate grasp. Where do they look? Surrounded by concrete and gang troubles, where do they look? I cannot answer that but the thought of them arrests me. From the position of privilege, aka warmth, safety, food, money enough, I am a veritable baby in this world. Although I have seen poverty close up I have never lived it.

From my place of privilege, I can write, walk in safety, talk to the trees and many other things that, I imagine, would swingbat a head bash from one who sees me as a princess; as I must be, to them. So many layers of life, so many and most of us who whine about dog poo along our verges or the lack of produce in our local Co-op are only highlighting our ignorance as we whine. Our problems are so First World.

Nonetheless, all of us within our very different layers must needs find ways to grow from the pandemic. I write ‘grow from’ because we are all affected by its many-layered tails, the loss of confidence, the fear, the anger, the isolation. All of us, privileged or not. We are all pandemic babies, no matter our age. All of us. And, as babies we can augment, we can grow and we can outmanoeuvre ‘going back’. I never got that. Nobody ever goes back, not to work, not to school. We move forward, always, with what we have encountered, learned, understood and refused in the interim. We can decide to walk a different way, choose a different direction, make good the old gaps in our relationships. We can augment, be more than.

This day the rain slew sideways. It skimmed across the tidal loch, the sky, obliterating the far shore. It smoked away the trees, big pines, altercating their place in the skyline and yet not causing a riot. I noticed that. Such an altercation in a pub might have led to a punch up, but not in nature. There is allowance. An augmentation, a rise, a raise. I watched the rain turn into rivulets, trickling through thicks of coppered beech leaves, spinning off the track and down down to a burn, already bubbling and singing its way back to the sea. I stopped beside a stand of hazels, noticed their reaching out boughs, the gnarls, the reaches and I wondered. What stopped you there? What gave you the shine to reach out there? I will never know the answer but I/we loved the asking moment. Beneath the pines I enjoyed a pelting of raindrops. It laughed me, and, I believe, them. I stood beside stand water, noticing the sticks fallen and longtime floating, how ebony they are, how slick black and how well they catch the light even in death. I encouraged a Silver Birch, rooted in the water. Go well, Girl. You have a lot to work through, not least a 12 inch puddle of endless rain. I saw how raindrops create ripples, how they augment the stand water, not just visibly but with sound, with a beat. I waited until I connected, stamped my sodden boots to the rhythm. Laughing my way home, I came into warmth, safety, home.

Not everyone can say that.

Island Blog – Rain Light

I walked today with my eyes open, as best I could in the slanty rain showers. I need to see, and everything, not just the odd one or two things of spectacularness. Actually, if I look with intent, a great many things take on such a quality. Marching past, thinking ‘rain shooting up my frocks or stones kicked inside my boots to irritate my bare toes’ I can easily miss something I should not miss if I want this walk to mean anything more than a mere mindless exercise for both myself and the Poppy dog. She, needless to report, has no issues with frocks or stones in boots and I am glad of it, for her sake.

Lifting my mind from the aforesaid, I steady my gait, slow my footsteps, turn my face to the rain and all the skinly benefits it has to offer me, for I know it does, I can feel it prickle and stipple my wrinkly face, making it really quite lively. My mascara will not run, and if it does, I won’t mind because the feel of this heavenly water is so much more refreshing than the slosh of chlorine controlled tap water. I look about me. The leaf mulch is like burnished copper and the stems of strong-backed bracken think me of bare trees in a fairy forest. Rose Bay Willow Herb (such a mouthful of a name) stems are of similar beauty. I wonder when they will all finally fall to earth. Perhaps never. I forget.

Moss coats the trees. Beech, Alder, Sycamore, Hornbeam, Oak. All of them gleam and glow, luminescent, elvish, the tiny moss tops holding the droplet diamonds. Thousands of them, on closer study. The sycamores or plane trees patched like the necks of giraffes show me burnt siena and umber. Some trees are bald and the rain has shone them into beacons of light, like wraiths among the living, standing without breath. All sung out. The flash of a Jay overhead, the greyling light illuminating its colours, the translucence of its wings in flight. A buzzard hums the air, holding it, balanced to perfection, almost still as punctuation. Poor rabbit, I think, or mouse. You will see nothing coming as you scurry from cover to cover, always hiding, hiding for a lifetime.

The track is puddled, the extraneous rain pitching down through little gullies, down, always down, as freshwater will always down to the mother sea. The loch popples, tiny drops peppering the surface whilst beneath, salt meets fresh and the inevitable collision shows me a frothy curve of resistance and attack. Sticks lie here and there, thrown perhaps for laughing dogs with play in their mouths and dance in their legs, abandoned like dropped kindling on the path of a forager. I remember each Autumn walking up here on dry days to forage for kindling. There was something wonderful about knowing who lit my fire. Buying bags of split wood never felt the same. I like provenance, stories, meaning behind things. I felt the respect owed and due as I lifted, carried and then lit my fire with something from the woods of Tapselteerie. So much of my life lived there. It matters. Thank you, I breathe, as I lay the gathered sticks, marking, in my mind, the tree they fell from, the one still living, or the wraith that once flowered and spread, following the seasons and just begging to be noticed.

Almost home and I hear the chatter of a very busy household. I can see the evergreen shrub shaking with all this noise and bustle. Hallo Sparrows, I say, but quietly so as not to disturb or alarm. I toss up a prayer of thanks for their safety in concealment. I like that they can live together this way, as I absolutely could not. A commune never attracted me but sparrows seem to love it. They are safe for now, for this time when the sun, barely able to lift his head over the horizon offers a shortling day in which to feed or to forage. T’is the season, I tell them, as I walk by and they, having paused at my footsteps, in an alert concern, relax and chatter back to me. I know how to move around birds; slow and with a soft, reassuring voice. In the mornings as I fill the feeders, the birds come close, even the male blackbirds and that was my best delight for they are the biggest panic merchants I have ever encountered, screaming alarm at the slightest twist in proceedings and frightening all the other birds into bushes and over fences, their little hearts beating like a drumroll, and oft for nothing.

Another day passes. This one with rain light in its eyes. I meet those eyes. And I see.