Arriving can be overwhelming.
Even if it is not my homeland.
On the deck of the ferry, the ever present wind carries something extra; a raw, beautiful, self-awakening brought on by the boat arriving into Lerwick. It hits you at the point of seeing the Southern tip of Shetland.
Hold tightly onto the white painted, thin railing or the sight is too overwhelming.
And then, after a short time, there is the light house to your right, sitting proudly on the tip of Bressay and all is well enough. At this point, without even coming in to dock, I’m already aware of the power of these small Islands.
Every day, I try to live in the moment, but, at this time of arriving, I usually feel a hint of sadness because I know I’ll leave.
Time moves forwards.
It’s an overpowering mixed blessing. Before that, there is the long train journey skirting the East coast of England to Aberdeen. Then the overnight ferry – all in all – 24 hours From Sheffield To Lerwick.
You never know who you will meet on the ferry, in the shared bunk cabin room, on the deck watching Aberdeen being left behind or watching Shetland come into view, or at breakfast time or at checking in. There’s a life on the ferries that is quite extraordinarily simple. People leaving, arriving, returning and I will once again do the same in a few weeks.
I know the journey so well, it’s almost as if I can hear it, feel it. I know where the sun rises and sets on a flat-lined horizon behind a slow-moving boat.
Sometimes, someone meets me. More recently, someone sees me off for the return journey. Happy Sad Happy.
Shetland can be a place of extremes although I have only scratched the surface. The more I go, the less I know. The more I see, the more I want to see. The more I wait, the more comes to me.
Shetland has embedded itself deep within me and added another story to my life.
Shetland offers surprising things to learn about, if you’re new to it all.
I ask many questions whilst looking out of the windows as the little pink car drives us from one place to another. The Plantiecrubs draw me every time, second only to derelict croft houses and the beautiful spoken words of the Islanders.
Shetland offers an endless line of uniqueness – the knitted lace and the knitted yokes and the music and the sea and beaches and seals and otters and sea urchins and fire and vikings and the seagulls that stamp at the edge of the tide and all the things that open your heart and mind to a realness that is rare these days.
I find places that become my favourite places to return to. Places to think and feel and work with. Places – To knit about. Places to register the movement of time.
Sometimes, I feel at home in these places, sometimes a little scared because of the sheer isolation of it all. Sometimes, I purposely isolate myself. But always, I feel something special. I notice most every detail.
I begin to wonder, who lived here, who made these homes and crofts. And who painted these walls that have been left to dissolve into thin air after the months of harsh Winter weather. There are lives written across the walls and in the dust.
Sometimes I return to I honour a place by placing something in it. I mentally note the changes since the last time.
In December, I don’t quite know what I will do in Shetland but my time will be taken up by walking, writing, knitting, thinking, being, taking photographs, feeling – really feeling, and reflecting,
I’ll start from a point of knowing something of a place but it really not being anything much.
I’ll ask questions, hitch a lift, go to the library, listen to folks. Not much to write home about really. But I know I’m looking forward to living in a place that sits in the sea – A place where I will feel a strength and vulnerability and find things I never knew existed.
A Shetland Self shaped by place and others.