Island Blog – A Plan, A Shanty Rickle and Life

We make a plan. We hone it, condone it, refine it, mine it for pitfalls whilst utilising the elasticity of space, just in case, corridors of empty air in between the lines. We have faith in this plan. And then something too big for corridors and too structured for any amount of bend or twist lands in our path. This path that seemed so clear ahead of us is suddenly heaped up with stumble stones, huge boulders and standing tight together, telling us clearly that the path stops here, right here and right now. For a few moments the darkling sky falls in around us like old ghosts or loft webs long ignored, solidifying into a thixotropic blanket of No Go. Our heart sinks, our eyes fall to our boots for what good are they now in the face of this rickle of stone, this wall, this sharp edged decision across our path, one made behind our back and without consideration of our feelings. A total disrespecting of our marvellous plan.

For a while we are confounded, ungrounded, flying up there one minute and burrowing into the ground, the next. We are in short, lost in time and space, no grace, long face. But soon our human spirit tickles at our edges, whispering encouragement. Come on, get up, shut up flapping, get those boots back on the ground. Just because this block is stopping you does not mean there is no other way. There are millions of ways. Think, listen, learn, look. Your spirit is 86 billion cells. That brain of yours is considerably untaxed, if you don’t mind me saying. There are acres, miles, continents worth of active brilliance in between those ears of yours. Engage. Ask them to help, not based on your experience because, well, look at you now all scuffed and battered and standing there as if your are at the end of everything and all because that plan of yours was never meant to work out in the way you decided it would. Drink from that freshwater stream over there. Watch the fish, the birds, the insects. Tip your head to the sky and follow the clouds as they shapeshift across that big wide expanse of hope. Turn, now, to see the way sunlight catches the sharp edges of the shanty rickle of stone. Those boulders are a million years old and there are so many stories held in their folds and twists, don’t miss them. Lift your face to the wind. Let her soothe and smooth your furrowed brow. She carries stories on her back, tales of others who would give everything just to be where you are now for just one more day of life. Now, rise and decide. Up and over or maybe not. Maybe this path is not yours and never was. See, over there? A ley line, a narrow way, one you just marched past unnoticing, you with your plan and your big stomp boots. Deer come this way when night falls, every single nightfall. They know where they are going and from whence they came. Lift up now, breathe deep and step into the unknown for it is there you will find the way ahead, the one Life always wanted you to take.

Island Blog – You have to want to dance

There is a scowl in the sky this evening. The grey pushdown clouds point fingers. The Blue Ben bothers not and why would he, standing there all granite push-up shoulders and for centuries? It doesn’t mean he doesn’t notice. What we eejit humans don’t understand is the natural communication between the elements. Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. They were here and talking long before our ancestors arrived, whether from the sea or from Adam. It matters not.

There are times I feel very small as an eejit human, as a sudden ‘insider’, in such a huge story that tells of life so long before me that it means nothing beyond its echoes. And, to be honest, they are easily ironed or washed or swept away along with the dust and the creases. However, I am very busy noticing myself. Not in the mirror, no. But in my responses to whatever comes in, including my thoughts and my ditherments and my hesitations. I have to say that once I step into those footprints of acceptance I feel engaged with the oldness in me and with all the ridiculous crap that goes with oldness. I won’t say it is a fear-thinking thing because it is so very not. It’s in the bones, the creaks, the inevitable inability to lob a fence as I used to be able to do. It also isn’t about striving for that agility. No. I get my limitations, but I will not accept without challenge. Again, No. I just step up. I acknowledge that I will not be young again. I say that I know where I am and who I am and I will (don’t do this) always accept a challenge. I will dance the rest of my life. I am under nobody’s control, only my own.

There are scowls. There are fabulous starlit nights. There are cold wet mornings and sunshine afternoons. There is that moment when the sunset blows poppy red, and suddenly in a dawn when a new daffodil takes the breath from me. I am watching myself. I say that because it is so easy to keep flopping onwards without noticing ourselves. I know because I have done just that until I clocked my flopping and turned around to question why. It whirled me around and back till I looked at the old thinking and saw it cobwebbed dark and without the spin of a live spider. It takes mindful thought. You have to notice and to question. You have to want to dance.

Island Blog – Salt, Ladder Resistance, a Giggle

When I went to boarding school aged 13 I believed I was going into a story. Well, I did, but not the one I imagined. I reckoned on adventures, midnight feasts and a lot of giggling. I know, now, that my ideas of how life should be lived does not always agree with the plans Life has for me. When I am expecting fish and chips, she serves up gruel and the key to the gruel thingy is to see beyond it. In my imagination I can see whatever I choose to see and even gruel can taste okay with a pinch of salt and a giggle. It’s saying Hey ho to whatever I face, refusing to allow this bowl of tasteless slop to damage my dreams. Needless to say we girls were carefully monitored at the table. Not a drop was to be wasted and it is not possible, as it might be with sprouts, to hide any of it in your knicker pocket. Yes, I know. Who on earth decided the need for knicker pockets? Well, someone did and they were regulation in my forward thinking school.

It thinks me as I listen to the terrible news from Ukraine. All those frightened and damaged people hiding underground. No chance of escape. From my place of extreme privilege I cannot imagine how they feel. I cannot imagine living through a war, the sheer terror inside each and every minute of what might become months or longer. Whatever gruel I may face, it is as nothing to their plight. I can decide my attitude to anything and everything. I am free to roam in safety. I can actually open my fridge door and choose my next meal from many possible options. I can talk to whomsoever I want without fearing for my very life. My one life, my now life. It humbles me and challenges my potential for too much inner study. Look out, I tell myself; look up. Don’t be ladder resistant like my regulations stockings (no pockets thankfully), those hideous orangey beige things that were supposed to remain intact for a whole term but never did. Oh, they didn’t ladder, no. Instead, when climbing fences (forbidden) or when pushing into a dense thicket of brambles in order to reach the fattest blackberries (also forbidden), I would emerge with polka dot legs. These ‘new age’ stockings about which everyone was thoroughly over excited would ‘hole’ not ‘ladder’. It was impossible to hide the truth, not with those white skin holes all the way up to the regulation suspenders, and I was oftentimes in the headmistress’s office being warned once again about how ‘nice gels’ should behave.

What I did then and what I sometimes forget to do now is to choose how I feel about things in my life, to focus on the blackberries, the thrill of climbing a fence, or diverting matron’s attention just long enough to salt the gruel. In other words taking the opportunity for fun, for naughtiness, for adventure. It matters not what comes at us. What matters is how we deal with it – because we who are free and safe have that responsibility, no question; to look up and out as we are able to do for we are not hiding underground in fear. To see the fingernail moon hanging over the sea-loch. To welcome others with a twinkly winkly smile. To hear the birdsong and to be thankful for every moment. I have homework to do.

It took me flipping ages to sew up the holes. In the end one leg was longer than the other and. even with my suspenders pulled down as far as they could go, I had to walk like a duck. Any thought of fence climbing was quashed at the outset and I raised many titters from other girls as I walked from Latin to History. The discomfort was inevitable. However, as I have already said, my imagination can take me anywhere and when I sat to study the dark lines peppering my legs I relocated my giggle. When the ghastly orangey beige things finally exploded open, way beyond repair, I pulled the stocking over my head and gave matron a terrible fright when she came into the dorm for lights out. Although more punishment was inevitable, I had no regrets. I chose to look up and out. I chose not to be ladder resistant and up there at the top the sky is wide open, the salt in my gruel.

Island Blog – Call on Pooh

Although I always awaken with Tigger bouncing in my head, even that striped loon can change shape as the morning unfolds. I never know how it will be until it decides for itself. It isn’t to do with what I do nor what I don’t. It isn’t about the weather, the season or my best laid plans. I can continue to bounce until even I get tired of the bounce thing, all the way up to evening, or I can feel myself turning grey. On the outside of me, I laugh at this. It’s the same for everyone else isn’t it you daft old eejit? Your grey slump is not new, nor is it original enough to warrant a voice. No, it is just a grey slump. Get on with it. You could, if you subscribed to self-pity, find a load of reasons to explain this. Or you can try to outrun it by attaching yourself to Blue (the marvellous hoover) or a bucket and mop or the iron or a pen. Third option. You could just stop running, stop searching for the reasons for grey, and let go. It is allowed.

I paragraphically distance myself from this conversation, as you can see. I have never been good at allowing myself such an indulgence, as I see it. Oh, I am really good at this allowing thingy with everyone else. It thinks me. Am I perfectionist? Well, maybe, because my standards for myself are as high as the sky and equally unreachable. I look up. Everything up there is doing what it does, naturally and adaptively. Clouds move because the wind moves them. Sun rises and falls, ditto the moon, all naturally. Down here it’s not so easy to adaptively flow. Our wonderful brains make mince of us if we are not in charge of them. We are also impatient and expectant and judgemental, often and mostly of our own selves. I find it reassuring to know that the grey hits each one of us, not that I wish it on a single living soul.

Today began with Tigger and became Eeyore by 0800. He’s a sad old sausage, tail gone plus other losses. Imagined? Possibly. Then I considered the stories lived out in the 100 acre wood. That is quite a wood by the way, and an opportunity to be lost for days. Moving on. Each of the friends find each other, seek each other out so that no distress remains thus for long. They are a team.

I believe that the writer fashioned each creature on the moods of a human. Winnie the Pooh, happy with everything in life, every opportunity a gift; Piglet, scared and lacking in confidence; Eeyore believing that life itself worked against him; Rabbit, tense, anxious and fearful; Kanga the mother, the carer, the soother of troubles; Roo, well, Roo is just Roo; Old Brown trying so hard to control whatever comes his way and failing and Tigger the jester. We all know all of them. We experience them all. What might trouble us, and troubles me is that I want to be always Tigger or Pooh but I cannot control that (Old Brown). Life has a life of its own and all we can do is to be okay about cloud thinking in the face of whatever wind decides to luff into power. Yes we must plan, yes we must take action, yes and yes. But when Tigger turns into Eeyore before the school run, then we might consider leaning into the grey, which, by the way, takes forever to create on the palette, more than 7 colours and in such cautious amounts that it is very easy to turn it into slump mud if distracted.

So when Tigger becomes Eeyore, call on Pooh. Always works for me.

Island Blog – I’m Watching

The sky louds as it darks, suddenly. Of course it is no sudden thing to the sky but only to us, captured in the time change thingy. I look away to make a mug of tea and there it is, the dark, closing in and rushing me to gather wood for the fire, as if I was an auld fool who had forgot the hours. Awkward and for a while. I remember it inside my young motherhood, remember rolling my eyes just knowing that babies and other young things work on body clock, not clock clock. Crows still rise at dawn to damage lambs and babies yell for mama when the same mama has only just laid herself down, after the grate clearing and ironing of napkins and table cloths for the breakfasts. The dark came suddenly, still does, with a swoop and yet I am loving the light in the mornings. For a bit I have felt I was the only one awake as Orion showed off in the Eastern sky but now, as if in defeat, he fades as I sip my coffee and I find myself glad of that.

In the now of my my now, I feel at peace, mostly. Obviously, there are sirilous moments (make up word) when I founder; when I walk from room to room looking for, looking for. That sort of crazy. But I like crazy. It fits. I am grounding inside my home that was his home that was our home (ish). I move barefoot always. Learned that connection from my beautiful sister, my brother’s wife and I still do this, no matter how cold. Barefoot. Do we ever do that thing? It isn’t weird. It’s real connection to our earth, our world, ourselves.

This night I see Orion. I follow the line of his belt to Venus. I think. I have tried to upload a star gazer app, being one who really loves stars, only to find daft music and a load of fiddle-di-dee that shuck my head.

I watch everything. People, stars, skies, moments, all of it.

Island Blog – The Best View

Heavy rain, like water bullets, straight down rain, none of this fluffing fallshift of soft water dash against my face. This was a wetting. I watched the opportunity for a while. I considered my cloaking, my ineffective coveration, my footwear, and pulled back. I pulled back long enough for even the Pull Back to raise its eyebrows. Are you going or are you planning to spend the day lurching towards the window like a catapult with old pants elastic?

I don’t like the old pants bit and it stirred me somewhat. I stand taller. Ok, I say, I am offski. Before the old girl in me can catch up I am footed and rainproofed and attaching the wee dog to her lead. Door open. We are out. Good grief! This rain is pelting like reproval. It is so straight down I turn to yell (and regret it) Bend Somewhat! It is either deaf, the rain or determined. I sigh, open the gate and head for the wild place. The track is jiggling water in potholes, the rain-off sloughing like a serpent down into anywhere that’s down. Water always seeking the sea, the river, the outfall, the easy way to go. I am not doing ‘easy way’ but I am not water, I remind myself.

As I wander, because I like the whole wander thing, even in the rain, I observe. The chestnut tree is hanging low, branches so huge and so powerful are bending. I look up and say hi. On and more trees, bowed in fragility and yet still so strong. The wind rises and rises puffing and luffing, lifting, playful. It wonders me as I see massive wood limbs holding life-giving leaves, reach out way too far from the body, from the mother trunk. And yet there is power there, control and the fabulous knowing that that ancient trunk is holding you, holding and holding.

The leaves are already turning, I see the beech leaves twisting at the edges and giving in to copper. I hear the woodland choir, led by the wind. At the shore, where I walk every day to remind myself of not where we began but where so many hundreds, thousands of others began their beginning with us. The chance to see whales. I can smell the excitement even now as I wander in a past land, through gorse, popping seeds and noisily, where the seaweed lays across the out-tide rocks, copper, flaxen, lime, blood and where a heron squawks at me and lifts in lazy flaps; where oystercatchers fly above the tide, turn to me, catch the sudden sunlight and turn into fluttering pearls; where the chance of seeing some wild thing lifts a head above the water in an hour’s watching. We yearn for the wild encounter. We always did and we always will.

Let the seasons be. They are not as we once knew them, predictable and uniform, to a degree. They are wild now, and free. We have a hand in that but it is not the hand that gives up, that turns, that lifts in latent anger. It is done. We are here. We can dance through them, adapt and welcome. We can be a part of what is happening now or we can whine and criticise from the sidelines of life. Eish…….don’t do that. Engage. Join me in the frontline. We’ll get the best view.

Island Blog – The Sky, Skerries and Staying

Today it is falling, the sky I mean. Earlier the pocks of deeper grey sat like skerries in a white sea. A few spots of soft rain fell, hardly worth a mention, but the wind was cooler than of late. Now the sky is leaking down onto the land, covering the hills, blanking out the trees, undefining contours of a land I know like I know myself. But do I know myself, I wonder? I think I do, and yet, there are times I catch my reflection and stop, mildly astonished (oxymoron). You do know, I tell myself in my best English student remonstratory voice, that it is impossible to be mildly astonished. This is lazy ‘speke’. Astonished, is, after all, a superlative and ‘mildly’ does little more than dilute with too much milk. It blands itself. And it thinks me.

I studied and loved language. English, French, German, even Latin, and am still a devotee of the way language flows like a river. Or it can do but, if I am honest, less and less nowadays in the ways learned by me. I remember my old dad with his linguistic brilliance, puffing like an old pipe should he encounter poor English, poor grammar, the ‘wrong’ use of punctuation. I also recall a conversation with him about acceptance. As cultures collide and collude, language shifts. We adopt and adapt and before we know it, words fall away like birds. When I read a classic novel, superbly crafted and written, it seems effortlessly and in lingual confidence, I can see that without incursive verbalism such writing would indeed flow like a river for a creator of stories. So do we, the now ‘we’, who must work with the fast moving changes of our world, go with what is, or resist and remain in academic slippers? We could, but we would risk losing a load of readers because language is changing. We might find ourselves moving up a floor, and up again, until the only person left is a lonely one. All the rest have died off, and their slippers are too worn for a charity shop, and burned as litter.

I find new language dynamic and fascinating, even as my eyes roll at much of what I read. Get with it old woman, I tell myself, because if you do, you remain in the game, the game that is life in motion. To refuse to abdicate the throne of those torn and floppy slippers is to choose loneliness. As writers, and we can all be a writer if we just pick up a pen and are ready to learn and grow in the world of words, we are duty bound to be gymnasts. Not actually gymnasts, the thought exhausts me, but acceptance gymnasts. There is another type, the one that holds on to the slippers for grounding, and who does a lot of eye rolling and pipe puffing and shuffles from room to room as if there is no world out there and if there is then I want none of it. I am not this person.

We live with danger, threat and menace. We are hacked and hi-jacked. We are compromised, surprised, confined and defined. Out there racial and sexual prejudice is alive and kicking, literally. The sky is falling. But wait. Look at how the sky reaches down both to confuse and to alter our perceptional lens. See how, in the not-seeing of what we know invites us to look at something another way. We can dismiss this as an opportunity, ignore it, even, say Mist, say Fog, say Close the Curtains. Or we can actually look and if we do, we will marvel. It is the same with words, with language, with change and with people. I get that it is exhausting (nearly said pretty exhausting #oxymoron) to be always required to adapt and adopt, but it is the way the world is spinning, faster and faster. New technology brings both healing and death, the whole circle, and the greys in between are like the skerries in a white sky sea. There are millions of them and each one offers footfall. They are like stepping stones. We might not know where they lead but if we don’t keep leaping from one to the next, we remain lonely, in slippers and pipe puffing at what only we consider lost.

I can write into the mist, or it can blind me. I can see banks of clouds or I can see skerries in a white sea. I can allow new cultures to enhance me or inhibit. I can hold to the old or I can estew the new, allowing myself to simmer and to blend with whatever comes in. Together we can make a delicious meal. I am not a new writer. I am honed from past teachings but I am curious and interested and I want to stay in the game.

Island Blog – Still

A word with more than one meaning. This morning I awoke about 5 and thought, rats, but only one, so, rat. I love the dawning mornings even if I am ready for lunch by 10. I came down for coffee, could smell it long before it was brewed, the good strong ground stuff and black as soot. I heard chaos in the skies, gulls in a frenzy. Hallo, I thought, there’s a big predator bothering these noisy sky-jackers. Then I saw them swinging and dinging around a faraway tree across the sea-loch, circling, rising, punching their white bodies into a space between the woodfull banks of the other side. I pulled on the bins, eyes still cloudy with unslept sleep and the lenses kept clouding from the heat of my eyeballs. Ffs, I muttered, wiping again and oh, again, with my wiper thingy until the glass and my eyeballs stopped posturing. Finally I catch them, two huge sea-eagles sitting quite the thing on a branch that already looked exhausted from the weight of their task. I saw the heads of the two, beaks moving langourously from one sky-jacker to the next with a barely visible shift of the neck muscles. Still. They were still in the face of the frenetic. I like that.

The sky was still, the clouds, not bothered, no wind. They sat like fat observers of my village, my home, me, no judgement, just watching. I felt the calm of both the clouds and the eagles move towards me, me in my jim-jams with soot black coffee on my tongue and in a way too early moment. It calmed me, smiled me. I said Thank-you for waking me at just the right moment to see the very perfect thing. I looked again and the eagles were gone. I missed their gone-ing, but here’s a thing – the sky-jackers kept pinging about the tree, squwalking and squealing like unwelcome thoughts. I have these too, I said to no-one there. I might be stilling myself, madly, only to find that, although no human interrupts this stilling process, my sky-jackers are within. Well, blow that.

Let’s take a look. I know I can’t ‘blow that’ because blowing that is what I have done for decades. Now I actually want to notice the interruptions when I am madly being still. I confront them. What do you want? I ask. The minute the voiced out loud question spills from my mouth, they begin to reply. They’re flapping like dingbats in a turmoil. What does this tell me? That they want me to listen to them. Ok, ok, I say, patting down the air around me. Form a queue. And they do. Ok, first…? I hear First. First reminds me that I had decided to check my household bills about 3 weeks ago and procrastinated because the thought of doing that is the ultimate yawn. I write it down and promise I will check that list this very day. Next? Next marches up with yet another thing I knew some while back demanded my attention and action. And so the list goes on. I actively respond to all of the demands. Then I still. I am like the not bothered clouds with no wind. And that is all it takes.

Cousin to this process of sorting out the immediate buzz flies or sky-jackers in my life is to respond to those who sing at me in a lower key. They come from way back. They are the Dodo, the Great Auk, The Tasmanian tiger of my life. They are, so called, extinct, but they are far from that. These other selves, our past selves, are still alive and kicking inside us and longing for love. I know this. My little girl and my teenage self were both angst ridden and for many years. And that is how it is and was. But because of studies into connectivity with our past, and with the exciting knowledge and support we now have access to, to heal our young hurts and breaks, there is the chance to be still again, to be at peace with the strong, bright and beautiful souls we have made of ourselves, no matter our beginnings. And we did, those of us who did the work. Just look at us! We changed neglectful, unthinking parenting into warm protection for our own children. We did that. We became eagles on exhausted branches not fussed by sky-jackers. We decided not to be bothered by old thinking peckers and baiters. We stood strong and our children are free-er than we ever were.

And for those of us who are still working on ourselves, allowing the mistakes we made as innovators of a future we had no manual for, we might like to say to ourselves this:- Well done. You shifted the time belt. You decided, whether consciously or unconsciously, to make a change, to do the old in a new way. To love instead of judge, to let a child think for his or her self. Go you. It isn’t done yet. But it is on its way if (thanks Maya Angelou) Still we rise.

Island Blog – I would tell you

This is for you my one and only husband. As you know (I am sure the angels will have reminded you) today is our 49th wedding anniversary. I can barely believe either of us stuck it out for so many years. I see you smile at that. Neither of us had a scooby about such an intensely complex relationship, speaking out the vows with all that enthusiasm and emotion and blissfully unaware that things would change. That we would change, not at the same time, which was always deeply inconvenient, but singularly and fully expectant of the other to adapt immediately, without a cross word spoken. How naive we were, how trusting in our own set of plans, dreams and expectations. We said we would do it different, remember that? We would never alienate each other, never endure long periods of stony silence, never break apart, never run away, and yet we did all those things. And we survived it all. Did our children, I wonder? Do any children? They are so aware of parental strife, of tension within mother, within father, it cannot leave them undamaged. I suspect we are all damaged, bringing into all our relationships the breaks and black holes from our pasts. As much as I look for the ‘perfect’, there is none.

I would tell you these things. Today I walked beneath the rain-heavy boughs and caught the raindrops, the water from heaven. I cupped them in my hand from a delicate larch limb and drank in the rain. I watched the grey above me, saw the light over the Isle of Coll, open as a window into the sky beyond. A beckoning of light. Look, I said to you, can you see? I wonder how it looks from wherever you are now. How I look, a pinprick dodging puddles in my favourite boots. Did I tell you how hard I have looked for a repeat pair? I find them nowhere. I found five orchids beside the track, no idea what sort of orchids but that doesn’t matter to me. Pink and sudden, for they weren’t there just yesterday and to see an orchid is to find myself in some foreign land. The walk today was the short one. I find walking in the rain jacket a cumbersome sort of walk. My frocks are curtailed from their desire to swish and they mutter beneath the waxed waterproof coat thing that weighs a ton and is far from a pleasant covering. As you know, my slim puffa jacket is as ready to absorb the rain as a sponge might be, although I have donned it pre a rainy walk purely out of vanity and respect for the swish of my frocks, returning drenched.

Then I showered and changed. In other times, this would have been in anticipation of an evening out to celebrate. Not this year. I walked barefoot through the garden to pick myself some flowers and you would not believe the rose you planted some years back, the one called Wedding Anniversary, the one that has heretofore only ever produced 4 or 5 buds. This year it is heavy with blooms and I hope you can see them. And I have been remembering past anniversaries, even as I do have to dig my way back before dementia to find the happier ones. I remember you saying, we are going out at 7. I held the excitement all day long, thinking about what I would wear, what we would talk about, where we would go. You were always the best at celebrations, thinking of everything. Even during dementia years, when you could barely eat, let alone drive me somewhere, let alone walk, you could still smile up at me and I would smile back, so much said, so much unsaid.

I want to tell you I am ok. Better than that, I am doing well. I am learning how to let go and how to make myself into a whole me. I am supported, safe and warm. I am also, finally independent. I know you hated that word, fought like mad against it, but it means something different to me. Independence does not mean a person needs nobody. Oh no. We all need somebody or we die of loneliness. What I mean by that word now is that I have confidence in myself, in my choices, my actions. I take full responsibility for everything in my life and I lay no blame, not even on myself. Although there are things I would have done differently given the chance, I am proud of who I am. And I am thankful. Thankful to you for being my broken rock, for protecting me and our children in the only way you knew; for loving and living as you did and you did your best. I can see that now, for all the squawking I did along the way.

I touch your face in a photograph and remember the feel of your skin. I remember your hands, strong, warm. I remember your smile and the ice blue of your eyes, a gift to our daughter.

These are what I would tell you this day, my husband.

Maybe I just did.

Island Blog – No Matter the Sky

The sky, umber grey, day long, a greasy cloud cover like soapy water on old chip fat. Not cold, though, not as it has been which tells me that Siberia has recalled the wind and I am thankful. It is high flipping time the grass stopped feeling sorry for itself and got on with providing the food these sheepish mothers need for their babes. Daily I check the seedlings I put out too early, reminding me that my exuberance, once again, blinded me to the truth. Why did I, why do I, year in year out, think that early April sunshine indicates a first night in mind, when it is always just an endless process of dress rehearsals? Well, I just do. A long winter, covid restrictions, loss and loneliness together with a natural human craving for other human contact, all drives my sensible mind out of the park. I think we all know what I mean.

It thinks me deeper. I know I have always been what you might call a party girl, although the girl is not a girl anymore on the outside of me. I can recall so many times when skies within or without were a relentless umber grey and I took it upon myself to be the colour. Now, for the artist in you, you will know how one single dot of red or vibrant blue in a canvas of umber grey lifts the whole thing into something quite wonderful. You don’t need much. In fact much will just make mud or confusion, but that little dot, that tiny eye-drawing spot of colour lifts the watcher into a world that the umber grey alone could never do. Before it just looked like a wall of nothing much with nothing to draw the eye, nothing to ignite, excite, delight. But with this tiny suggestion of the Other, our imaginations can take off like rockets into space. Banksy gets this, bigtime. His images of ‘almost nothing’ lift and elevate not just his work but anyone who looks in. There is a something, a wotwot, a subtle shift of perspective and an invitation to dance.

Anyway that was me, is me. I don’t bring this dot of colour because I have studied dots of colour on the umber greyness of most people’s lives. I don’t do it because I want to be seen as the dot of colour. That could not be further from the truth. I do because I can’t not do it. It is, I believe, a gift. If I see someone down or sad or lost or afraid, my heart actually hurts. I want to do something to make them smile, anything, everything. Of course, in our extremely broken world with all its dangers and threats, I cannot act as I might want to. I am not a fool and I have the same fears as everyone does. So I think on this. If I believe I have a gift to lift some other human being, no matter if they smell awful or I don’t like them or if they appear to be ‘bad’ people, then what do I do with this gift that will not let go of me, given the aforementioned? I can hide away, run away, like most of us do, avoiding the people who upset us, make us feel vulnerable, threaten us, or I can dig deep to find a way where this gift of mine can be of use to another human’s suffering. I am never going to be a media heroine. I would so loathe that. But this drive is strong and my job, as I see it, is to accept it and to wait for direction. That is not easy. The desire to fix the world is lively as a dancer in me but I am just me, small and here on an island and growing older.

That’s ok, says my inner guru. Nae worries, lass. Just keep digging, keep researching, keep peaceful and trust. It may seem like a big ask but I find I am pretty okay with it. In this more peaceful time of my life, with himself at rest and me alone now, I have plenty of time to let my thoughts emerge to fly like butterflies from a cocoon, wings wet, vulnerable on a branch, inviting sunshine and light for the first lift into sky, umber grey or blue. No matter the sky colour.