6:25am. A calm, slightly damp, silent, start of a day, with a waft of wind around my bare legs.
The one star left, after the star-studded sky has evaporated, is high and to my right – it may be a planet, I need to learn. Last night, at 3am, the Plough, ploughing amongst a sky of stars, I, noticing its different position to that when I was in Sheffield.
Here, 60 degrees north, the tilt of my view is different, sharper, present. On opening the door, in dressing gown, slippers and down coat, I’m greeted by a peachy ribbon hugging the sea top and sky bottom, falling temporarily in its homemade fold in the Earth’s atmosphere. Since moving here, it has been my greatest pleasure to be greeted by a line of colour dividing earth from sea – this is on lucky weather days. Some days, there is no differentiation between either. Almost seven weeks since I arrived and my first waking moment has never changed. I look out to sea, to the horizon, in search of a sunrise.
I have renamed the bench a Thinking Bench, rather than a Procrastination Bench. I procrastinated in that quiet garden in Sheffield, here, I view the changing light, devouring its fleeting moments.
This place is not an easy place to live but I am alive by its weather challenges and gift of light because it is becoming briefer at this point of the world. Nothing is missed, nothing taken for granted, nothing is sure – the changing light is a gift.
The door is open. Shetland
If you are interested in visiting this part of the island – bookings are open from spring time for single traveling, exploring ladies who want to experience this part of the world in a safe, unique house by the sea. Air B&B offer 20% off for the first 3 bookers. https://airbnb.com/h/levenwick
The weather has turned but I am still deeply happy here. For the last week, it has seemed as if the house has been a small boat buffeted by the 50 mile an hour winds and the relentless rains, bobbing on a sea of all imaginable water – rain, sea, fog, mist – except for Thursday. Thursday was bright and sparkling where we all came out brightly and sparkly blinking in the sun to do outdoor jobs.
Last night the aurora appeared but I didn’t leave my bed until 3am when Alf started his routine nighly bip bip bipping noise wanting to go out and my night was disturbed again much like 32 years ago when my children were babies. We now have a cat flap but he cannot, for some unfathomable reason, use it and Tig can only go one way – in. So every night, I am woken and have to let them out. Sometimes, I get up, get them out, return to bed and sleep wondering in the morning if I did get up, sometimes, I get up, wait and let them back in then feed them and we are all confused about 3am being part of a dark daytime, but mostly, I am awake for at least 2 hours either mulling over the many, many jobs to be done or thinking and feeling. I write words that are so crystalline that these nocturnal hours may be my best for writing. There doesn’t appear to be enough hours in the day, so my thoughtful times blead into the night.
I have found some kind of rhythm. It is dictated, in the first place, by weather. If it is fine, I start digging out the byre behind my house. I am hoping that it will be my greenhouse. I’m slow. I’m getting old but every spade of years of growth moved, every flag stone revealed, and every time I bump my head on the low door way, makes this little shell of an old stone building more into the fabric of my daily life and for the future. I’m keeping the ferns in it and there appears to be grape vine but the rest is slowly being removed to make way for a roof next year and a sheltered place to grow veg and scented flowers. Every stone placed by someone before me, every shovel of overgrowth removed by me puts my small mark inside the place. There’s a barn too – called a shed. It leaks and houses inherited junk, rusted metal things, old wood and peat. I like it. I have a vision for it but that will wait.
The house has not yet been changed inside by me. I am letting it speak to me, expose its foibles, and express its joys.
Things are returning to this place, kindly returned to me by a man who cleared it after his Aunt moved out in the early 90’s. His kindness at returning old jugs, glasses and plates that were once in this beautiful old house has been deeply moving. The pottery has once again seen the light of day and become pride of place. My favourite returning jug is a mid 19th Century Victorian salt glaze cream jug with pewter lid, which Raymond remembers being in the kitchen. It is returned to its old home after about 35 years of being away. I also love an old Wedgwood plate and if anyone can shed light on this plate, I’d be grateful These tactile treasures have been touched and used by the last two women who lived in this house for nearly 100 years. Just think of that – all the touches, all the pouring, all the meaningful reasons they were used.
This place and surroundings are always real, always natural. I am finding out more of the house and who lived here as well as change of land and outbuildings. My boys have settled into island life – mostly taking to bed during storms (which appears to be quite a lot) I’m glad they came with me – they make this place a home.
Anyway, it’s raining, to put it mildly. I’m going to put on 3 more layers of clothing and get out for a walk.
I also want to let you know that I have opened up my spare room on Air B&B for next year for single lady travelers, explores, lovers of knitting and crafts who would like to experience this island and lovely old house – the link is here.