The last time I posted about ‘my natural world’ here on Skye, it was summer. I took one day in the garden and tried to give a snapshot of that Hebridean summer’s day and of how it felt to be alive and in it. I decided then to write about the whole seasonal cycle – for one year.
And so, now, with the first frosts here at sea level – and snow on the tops, I better try to capture autumn before it’s gone. We’ve already had Atlantic gales and horizontal rain but we’ve also had glorious mackerel skies, beautiful golden dawns and fiery red sunsets.
Yesterday was an archetypal autumn day. It followed a wonderfully clear night, when because of the absence of streetlighting in these parts, I’d been able to see the waxing, gibbous moon in all its glory flanked by Jupiter and Saturn with all the stars of the Pleiades constellation in between. I always find that observing the night sky serves as a gentle reminder to me from the universe that my life is miniscule. This fact doesn’t depress me. I welcome the reminder to make the most of it. I welcome the reminder to be grateful that I’m still here – that the reprieve I got with the remission of my cancer didn’t come with any kind of guarantee, that eternity is indifferent to my survival, that the world turned before me and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. I’m glad to be nudged to appreciate all that is good in my life and not to sweat the small stuff.
So yesterdayI left the chores, the desk and the stresses of the week behind and I spent some time outdoors. I walked along the single track road that runs through the small crofting township where I live. I also spent time renewing my acquaintance with my own garden. After the clocks go back, I never see my house and its surroundings in daylight during the working week. So to have a crisp, clear, sunny, November Saturday is a joy and a bonus. The only sounds were from the animals and birds – geese bickering, hens fussing, sheep calling from field to field – even the roosters were still in good voice mid- morning, vying with each other to give the best fanfare. The loch was flat calm – not even the normal background noise of the tidal rush. Woodsmoke hung in the air, permeating the atmosphere with that unmistakable incensey fragrance.
The house above is about half way along the track. Word is it’s haunted. People who’ve been in feel a presence… One day I mean to write a short story about it…
And in the garden there’s a family of hedgehogs preparing for hibernation under the fuschia hedge, rabbits running around when they think no-one’s watching, and a mad hen who sneaks in to steal the seed we put out for the wild birds and who the husband chases with a mop.
We have new dry-stone walls – built from reclaimed sandstone from the original croft buildings. The lichens and moss have colonised them already and they look old and weathered and as if they’ve always been there. Beautiful to look at and lovely to touch – a link to the croft’s past, to those who’ve gone before and to the very geology of the planet.
It was a precious day – a worthwhile pause before the ever darker days that lead to the winter solstice. Full spectrum light does the body and soul good, and putting a little time aside to reconnect with our beautiful, little, blue planet and the rhythms of the universe is a worthwhile investment.