Island Blog – Wolf Whistle

Why this? Wolves, as far as I know, do not whistle. But I may await a corrective.

Today my walk took me through and beneath the same trees. But all things are different from yesterday. For starters I watch two obvious tourists walk by my garden. Obvious because their kit tells me all. Not one islander wears what they are wearing. It speaks to me to me of change and hope and what lycra can do for any of us. Lycra has a voice. It says change. It says I don’t mind how ridiculous I look in this tight-fitting lightweight kit. I, yes I, am courageous enough to put it one despite my reflective mirror. I. Am. Going. Out. I smile. Good for you I say from behind my window. I won’t snigger. I was the sniggered at too often in my life to think it is ever okay to do the snigger thing. Instead I see courage.

Wood Sorrel, anemones, violets, celandines, primroses pepper the sunlit banks. I notice where they have decided to be born. How extraordinarily intelligent. They know the sun shift, after all. The blackthorn, a Go Away tree is flooded with pinkly white blossom, promising sloes for winter gin. I stop to say hallo. I remember you, you Go Away tree, when you were big and wide, commanding sky and light, until someone decided to strop you. But, see, you didn’t give up. Courage again. The Hornbeam is leafing up, that sassy dancer who can grow just about anywhere, slanting her body like a zig-zag in order to get what she needs. Her cluster of emerald leaves, like bunched fists, are growing in confidence. Willows buzz with bumble bees, the furry catkin buds alive with music. It stops me and I stop to gaze up at the fat furry bodies of Buff Tailed, Gypsy Cuckoo, White Tail, Garden, Moss Carder and Red Tailed bumble bees. I never knew there were so many of these solitary nesters. Courage, but only to me. Not to them. Normal to them.

Around the coastline I see confusion in the sea. Ah, the twist of tidal shift for there is little wind to excite anyone, least of all the puckering wavelets. A chill swifts its way towards me, me in my summer frock. I brace it. Welcome, I say. I was a bit warm to be honest, with all this pacing in my not lycra. I notice the beech trees, those silver solid strong fathers of the wood. They stand there, saying nothing, much like a husband, but I can’t just slide by without stopping. I see the wounds of time, the catch of storms past, the limbs lost, the steadfastness of this strong trunk of life. So much support of life. Birds nesting, birds landing for a rest, shade, insects. Father Protector. I get it. Down into the going back. The going back is the home leg I guess. It is where the loop bends like a hairpin and points the walker back to where he or she began. I know it so well. An open expanse of grass, now coming, coming with brave green voice into a new space. I nod my respects to Lord and Lady Larch, who seem without marital issue today. He is broken limbed but still the old style husband and she, she, who has always known herself and her situation, flows her limbs in a confident bold. She is remarkable, hundreds old and still on the dance floor. I guess he, Lord Larch is okay with it now as he never was when she was a young catch. How peaceful it feels around them now.

Sundance dapples the track as I wander home. In the last sycamore drift, at the ending of my walk in this ever changing connection with me and nature, I hear a wolf whistle. I know a wolf whistle. I have had a few in my time. I stop, turn to see who could be there. I see nobody. Ok, I say to the track behind me, what is this? The track says nothing. I wait. What I am thinking is this. At 68 a wolf whistle is really quite exciting. I want to locate this wolf whistler. Nothing. I begin to turn, remembering what fun it was at 16 to get one as I walked by a building site. Then I hear it again and I laugh at myself. The music created by nature. The wind lifting one limb of a tree against the other. Clearly I heard what I wanted to hear.

Island Blog – Cloud Stories

Waking each morning in this grounded world I take myself through the normal routines, pulling back the duvet, opening the curtains, dressing, finding sneakers for a barrier between my night-warm feet and the cold floor. The only bit that isn’t rooted in this grounded world is the moment I open the curtains. Now I am connected not only with the physical world but also with the cloud stories. They tell me weather, for one. They show me looming hailstorm or a blanket white sky cover depending on their spread, their individual shapes, the plans they have for me. I may have been able to guess their plans prior to that curtain opening ta-da! I would, after all, hear rain slamming, trickling, falling straight or slanty. A cloud dump of hail is deafening, scary even, making me wonder just how strong the panes of window glass are, how much they can withstand. An overnight fall of snow brings a silence like a long held breath and we respond by holding our own, for snowfall is gaspworthy. But, there are none of those shenanigans this morning. Just weather silence, as if there was none to be had this day. No weather at all. Perhaps after endless storms, days and nights of fighting between heaven and earth, everything seems quieter. I feel like a child consoled into peace after a long parental row.

The sea spreads out before me, wide and only a bit rippled. Seabirds split the air, rising, wheeling, keening like lost souls only to land in lines on a rocky bluff, their heads facing the sun warmth, their white chests bright and round, puffed out for preening. They mutter quietly to each other, lifting now and then to perch beside someone else for new conversation. Rainbows appear all the time, their pots of gold lying ocean deep, unattainable. Other island appear and shrink back as the light changes. What looks like an old broch shines, illuminated until the sun shifts round a bit to show me some other natural marvel of basalt and granite. White spume bursts against the coastline even now, even when all I see are a few ripples. Submerged rocks, the pull and thrust of the tide and a living, breathing wind make sure of this; this spectacular explosion of bright white water hurled ashore, snatched back, worked up to a new froth and hurled again. Over and over and over. Ships have foundered. Ships have drowned. Get these hidden rocks wrong and your connection to the world is cut like a ribbon at a garden fete. You are now open to the sky. A part of a new cloud story.

In the evening, as the sun sinks into the sea, the clouds show me castles, pink-tipped, scallions turning into rapunzel towers in minutes. I lift my thoughts into the storyline, guessing, imagining, seeing dragon shapes, eyes watching me, wild horses running free, a baby reaching up, a turtle, the sharp outline of a wolf. Sometimes when the clouds touch the distant island I see whirlwinds, spinning tops. A line of hail greys the distance, moving like a murmuration of starlings, lifting, flowing, at the wind’s bidding. I want to take a photograph but I know that by the time I get outside the palette will have changed completely. Those pink-topped towers, that deep grey face of a beneficent giant, those capering children will have been turned off by some captious old god. So I stay still just watching the weave of a storyline, letting myself lift into each moment as it passes. Then, as night begins to steal the day, bit by bit and the cloud stories are left to themselves, I turn back to the grounded world, a supper to cook, a fire to light and curtains to close all the way up to morning.

Island Blog – Thinks on Why

This morning I was discussing various outlandish things with my faraway son. We don’t bother, he and I, with myopia, moving with a zip straight into deep thinks on even deeper things such as ‘how is it I can remove my feet from my boots without unzipping the zipping and yet find it impossible when inserting them?’ That sort of deep think.

We spoke on the Why of things, the Why that explodes you out of bed of a morning, so excited are you to get the day rocking. Without a Why, we agreed, we would remain in bed considerably longer, rising with a sad sigh of resignation. The day would not rock at all, not even once. So what is your Why? I ask him. He doesn’t know, yet, but with his investigatory brain, he’ll locate it I feel sure. Sometimes it is there, the Why, but playing hide and seek with you. You have to look for it until it leaps out from grandad’s old chest on the landing with a loud Wahoo!

I think about my Why as I walk, reluctantly, the dog this afternoon. Why reluctantly……when the sun shineth down on all his people and the sky could set up a sailor’s trouser factory to match the largest in China? Why, when you have had lunch, prepared supper, brought in the wood, sorted the palaverous palaver for tomorrow’s journey to the care home, affording you a week of peace, no wheelchair motor thrumming like a bee stuck in a strip light, no spills or crashes, nothing lost that can never be found again, not even the wifi going down, deliberately timed for maximum upset? Because I am exhausted. So you will understand that my Why is not in Grandad’s chest on the landing, nor any of the other likely hiding places. My Why is awol.

However, forcing my tired old brain into action I took a wee donder through the limbic region for something that lit my fire. I meandered through sewing, knitting, caring, holidaying, making money, painting, singing, playing my piano and into writing. That stopped me. Writing. Yes. Is this my Why? Perhaps I wouldn’t have to ask that question if it was. I know that, when writing I am totally engaged, time slips by without me noticing and in a life (nowadays) when I could scream at the slow slow ticking away of the seconds as I wait for a day to run out of puff, this is exciting. Had I even begun Book Two I might be so absorbed as not to notice the dull drudge of caring for decades. Is it a truth, then, that I am actively not seeking out my Why in the vain hope that soon this will be over and I will be free to write without endless interruptions? I am not sure this is a healthy, nor a realistic, way to live.

I know one Why that explodes me up of a morning. I am out so fast that it may take all morning for my bed to regain its comfortable calm. My children. And their children. Whatever skirmishes are going on inside my own brain, if one of them is going through shit, or facing an exam or a life test, I am fired up like a rocket. I can’t manage their stuff for them but my support, my texts and voice messages can tell them I am here for them, always and as long as I draw breath. Probably long after that too. But it isn’t right to live inside someone else’s life, or for someone else’s life. It is the Why inside my own that needs finding, naming, sticking on the wall, fastening to my heart. This Why must be writing. It has to be. Writing is the only island in this turbulent ocean, the only thing that eats the indigestible whilst feeding me at the same time.

There are no books at all on How to cope with long term caring, beyond suggestions for joining groups or taking up community singing. Not that I have found, and, believe me, I have looked. With a How there needs to be a What. If the What, for me, is a book to help others caught in this cruel trap with no sign of an ending that is in any way pleasant for anyone, to make them laugh out loud at the funny side and to let them know they are not alone as they plan murder or an imminent departure from their post, then this book is begging to be written. Experiential learning is critical, as it is to pretty much anything in life. I have that in spades. The How is to flaming well get on with it, find a space, make a space, defend that space. Now, not when it’s over. Right now.

And the Why is the writing. No matter that I have no idea how to begin, nor how to couch the awfulness, the drudge and boredom and frustration of it, in polite language; no matter that there are a zillion stupid tasks inside this myopic life all needing Only Me to fix them, from finding a jersey that doesn’t exist, never was red, nor did it have buttons down the front, this jersey crucial and of great value that will never be found, to relocating the wifi dongle that I deliberately put away somewhere deep and dark out of spite, and with many others in between. Many. Others. Not even these can take away my Why, My How and my What.

How I do this, I have no idea. But what I do know is that if I don’t flaming well get on with beginning it, I might as well howl at the moon in the vain hope she will howl back. And I don’t think that has ever happened. My head is a jumble right now. I am scrabbling around inside my knowledge of a day in my current life and there is no space left. And yet, and yet, I seem to recall great people who made space for a dream, who planted its seed with no assuredness of future growth; who tended and nurtured and waited patiently for a green shoot, for validation.

So, if them, then why not me? Why not you?

I leave you with a quote from one hell of a fine woman.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Eleanor Roosevelt