A Woman for All Seasons

An animation
Image via Wikipedia

Autumn is my favourite season. I don’t think you can beat a
cold, crisp, golden autumn day. Unfortunately, here in the Hebrides, it has
mainly been mild, soggy and grey. However, there have been other signs that
winter is approaching.

Geese In Flight
Image by Corey Leopold via Flickr

The migrant wild geese have been arriving from Canada and
Greenland. They arrive every year and seem to co-exist quite happily with their
native cousins. One skein was particularly noisy according to Skye naturalist,
Chris Mitchell, writing in our local paper, the West Highland Free Press. He
looked up on hearing the loud honking overhead and saw what he thought at first
was a young goose flying alongside the main group. Then he realised it was a
peregrine falcon chasing and harrying them. Must have been an incredible sight.

Northern lights over Kulusuk, Greenland
Image via Wikipedia

The Aurora Borealis was visible on a couple of clear nights
here at the beginning of October. This is apparently going to be a good winter
for Northern Lights spotting. It is an amazing spectacle and not one you can
see too often.

And the clocks have gone back. By December, it won’t be
light until nine a.m. this far north – and dusk will have fallen by three p.m.
The forecasters keep telling us that the snow is on its way – and there have
been flurries settling on the mountain tops. I’m all set – I think – I’ve got ice-grippers
for the soles of my boots, a lovely cosy new coat and a funky hat. The
emergency lights are charged, there are batteries for the radio and alternative
heating sources are primed.

At school, with Halloween over, the buzz is all about
Bonfire night, the Children-in-Need fundraiser – and, even (whisper it)

Venus reflected in the Pacific Ocean
Image via Wikipedia

I love the anticipation of it all. I like the dark – the
big, starry skies – Venus clearly visible as both night and morning star – and Jupiter
in the west as darkness falls. I like wrapping up warm for a visibly breathy
walk and then drawing the curtains and battening down. I love a snowy
landscape. And I love being at my desk writing as the wind and rain batter on
the window – no guilt that I should be gardening or out on a hike. Come to
think of it –  maybe winter’s my favourite.

But then after the Solstice, and as the days slowly eke out
again, I get excited about the arrival of spring – followed by those very long,
twenty hour days of summer daylight…

No – it’s true – my favourite season always seems to be the
one we’re in currently – in other words no favourite. It’s the existence of the
seasons that I enjoy. I can’t imagine living in the tropics and not
experiencing the chapters of the year and all of nature’s facets.

So – let it snow. I’m a woman for all seasons.

Autumnal Thanksgiving

Feelin' good

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.

Pleiades Star Cluster
Image via Wikipedia

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.

That big Skye sky!


deserted croft house

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…

The hens, sheep and pigs all seemed to be enjoying the sun too.

 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.

Agapanthus seedhead


Lichen on the stone of the garden wall


our new and beautiful dry-stane dyke

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.

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...
Image via Wikipedia

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.