Shetland Winter walk

On the doorstep, the air of the first pre-dawn breaking light is heavy with the scent of peat smoke.  It has faintly snowed as if salt has been laid down. Eleven geese fly in a staggered distorted V line, calling as they fly overhead in the dark blue sky.  The fine white snow covers the earth.  I’m heading towards the beach, it is 7:30am and the sky is a deep mid blue, the sun has not risen but the horizon is a faint burning pink line.  It is neither dark nor light.  Everywhere is silent apart from the trickle of the brook beside me babbling, occasional geese flying above and the ducks at the top house waking.  Few houses have a light on. It is Winter hibernation time – even Alfie went back to bed after he’d eaten at 6.

A large boat sits in the bay. It’s quite unusual to be here.   I’ve looked at it through my tiny eye glass. It is piled with containers and its lights are on day and night. I have since found out that it has stopped for repairs on route from Estonia to Iceland. It’s a different world.

When I breath in sharply, icy air surrounds my nostrils – there is no scent in the air – yet. 

Sheep rise stiffly and move away from my approach.  I try to not disturb them from their icy beds.

Towards the beach, my footprints leave not trace in the frozen snow.

I think, as I walk, that it is as if I have never lived in any other place, yet I have only been here about 20 weeks.   The sand is frozen in the shapes of yesterday’s footprints.  I came for seaweed but it lies frozen in the sand so I leave it. The beach lies below the Winter sunrise horizon line – it is entirely in shade and entirely frozen.  To my right, the cemetery is outlined in the early morning light.  I can see where Susan lies next to her parents above a thousand years of history. The grave stones stand as a crowd of people against the light.  

 At the edge of the cliff, I stare at the large boat in the bay. I can hear its distant engines chugging. The natural sea laps below me.   As I turn, I catch a glimpse of my tiny house on the hillside facing South East.  It has stood there for 200 years.  The white houses are all white, they do not glow pink as a reflection from the sunrise.  I feel calm, at one, at peace, yet there is a hint of uncertainty edging my fragile calmness – similar in shape to the pink edged clouds in front of me.  The light lightens.  It feels surreal to be standing on a bank above a crescent beach, listening to the ebb and flow of the winter tide. 

Rabbit holes pit the ground around the cemetery walls.  The rabbits know what lies below that ancient mound.  In this light, I see that all the beach is faintly covered in salty snow.

Sea, tide, ebb, flow, beach, wet sand, footprints, shells, tide mark, tiny shells, frozen seaweed, snow covered sands, frozen footprints.

The clouds are edged in frills of pink facing the rising of the sun god.

On my return, the sunrise has crept into the porch, indicating a return of the sun to a  more easterly position.  When I open the door, I see the sunlight flooding across the bare chimney wall in a shard of light.  The crystals throwing rainbows onto the ceiling, the shadow of the bar in the window frame flanks the wall in a perfect shape.   

I actually gasp at the magnificent light in my simple home, a home of few things, and know for sure that I would not wish to be in any other place in the world at this moment. The house provides me with safety in my unsure world. It is a place of shelter, a place of life, a place where I live and see and feel this world around me. I mean, really see and really feel this world – eyes wide open.

Author: traceydoxeydesigns

Site specific Artist using own created textiles, laser cuts and hand block printed wallpaper to engage with narratives of landscapes, social history and place.

One thought on “Shetland Winter walk”

  1. That is contentment: to not wish to be anywhere other than where you are right now. 😀 It is a (sometimes fleeting) blessing. 👏🙏

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