In my dream, I am walking along the side of the croft house, holding the white washed wall with my right hand to both steady myself on the uneven ground and to touch the old dwelling, built an unknown number of years ago, but recognised as being almost 200 years old. The white wash paint, cheaply thrown in a thick running coat painted over the wall just before I bought the house, by the previous owner’s husband – a stoic man a very few words, is/was beginning to flake and grow a frill of green mould around the edges of each flake, a little like lichen, created by the harsh southerly storm whipping winds and lashing rains.
It, having stood for almost 200 years, defiantly, strongly, needing nothing but paint to protect it, had seen and heard generations of families who lived here/there before me, is/was my protection against the fierce elemental swirling world.
Every second of living in that beautiful house, I knew from which direction the wind was blowing. I felt it, heard it, saw it even, the ever-present wind. The house, picture perfect, faces/faced the sea to the east but I had already begun to look Southward to distant thoughts of friends and son and daughter. Threads of invisible people pulling me back through lack of regular contact and communication. It was then that I recognised a deeper loneliness than I had ever before in my life – the loneliness of self-imposed isolation that would not change over time but become more heart wrenching.
In my dream, I walk/ walked along the side of my beautiful croft house to the roofless byre, to sieve the soil to grow things but nothing really grows/ grew outside in Shetland without a great deal of protection from the elemental sea salt burning winds and harsh rains. The time-heavy extra labour to protect growing outdoor plants that grow horizontally below the storms, takes its toll on body and soul and does not always pay off in fruitful crops or a feeling of personal value or reward but becomes at best, a learning curve and at worst, exhausting. I began to dream of having a polycrub but that was out of my reach financially and with land space. I then began to realise the value of land on that island. Land struggled for by many for many generations and still held as priority.
In my dream this morning, here in the city, there was a brief and fleeting, but very real walk along the south side of a house I once bought and loved. I heard the crunch and shuffle of endless rocks and stones beneath my unsteady feet to walk ten steps in my memory of a place that was home and felt completely right, for a while.
April 14th 2022.