As my chin sat heavy upon the rounded handle of the outdoor brush a small velvet sheened robin with a ruddy rounded chest hopped upon the lip of Fasgadh. Watching it, I pondered as to whether I had ever uncounted a robin so close and fearing I had not I did what any self respecting individual would do and started up a conversation. Its a sort of magical place the tiny shred of land that sits next to our house. Not big by any standard, but I have over the last ten months watched large wild daisies bloom and wave in the Hebridean wind. Seen small rounded mushrooms red as blood appear, waiting for whatever small being may need a seat. As well as meeting a rather large toad of whom sat for rather a long time outside our house one frosty Sunday morning. Its very rare to see frogs on the island and I’m told that this has something to do with the water content – makes it very difficult for them to survive. The sun caught the ruby chest of the robin and it made a very sharp but sweet sound. I carried on my casual small talk and made the promise that when next in town I would buy some bird food for him. As I would of been polite enough to feed and water any other house guest should I have had one.
The cold has slowly filtered in from the Atlantic these last few weeks and with it an icy wind that has feathered the grasses and made surrounding scrubs like lace against the sky. The long flamed stems of the orange day lilies are now but long burnt seeded reeds and the ferns that felt so huge in the summer weeks have turned brown and heavy with the rain like sodden feathers. One morning, a cold one in particular as the sun had yet to rise. I reached for my long coat and wellingtons and strapping Bea into the pram encased her with a large blanket and warmed milk. The wind was sharp stinging the tops of my ears to burning. I had thought of turning straight round but Bea being a hardy thing would be fine and I myself needed the fresh air. My stride was wide yet slow and we headed for the marina where I knew within minutes the sun would wake and the island would light with a warm glow. Passing the large upturned boat like the belly of a sleeping whale and stacks upon stacks of lobster pots, my underfoot began to crunch for nearing the sea wall the water in all her might casts fragments of broken mussel shells, bruised and pearly as if some gift from her to us. The sun, without warning hit the water and with it each ripple became tangible upon the large expanse of a timeless sea. A small line of golden light lay upon the highest cloud as if by sheer accident someone had caught the lip of a yellow ink pot sending a trickle around its perimeter. The morning felt young and I although tired, laden with mothering, felt young with it.
I was glad to see the back of summer. It had made me feel tired and overly energetic in great bursts and flurries. I had felt mainland with its lights and sounds draw ever closer to me as each ferry rolled freshly into port. Chris weary from hot kitchens was somewhat distant with to do lists and kitchen politics. I had been warned, about the harshness of the winters here. How unrelenting and fierce they are. How the cold will eat you alive and the wind, continuously howling will, replace any silence. Its true what they say, the winters are hard, but my goodness they are but a drop in an aging ocean against the heightening summers. I had yearned all summer – somewhat unknowingly – to go back to the edge of the water and yet as I am unable to drive I had become a little stuck in that department. For like a constant friend, ebbing and flowing in ways it has done time upon time, year upon year, the ocean and her inky depths will always be there. It is older than all of us and thus in sensible contemplation probably wiser too. Like an elderly woman sat deep and unassuming in a comfortable chair she has seen the world and taken its many lessons. Whether we find comfort in its deep inky waters or we find peace in its thrashing peppermint waves it is always an old wise friend who taking worries engraved upon the sand will swallow them whole, smooth them away and send out fresh ground to carry onwards on.
Tarbert basked in a warm pink light and although cold I felt that familiar warmth that only the sky can bestow as I tilted my chin towards it. The kind of light that makes pavements golden and windows dazzle. The kind of light that artists yearn to squeeze onto canvas and no matter your religion makes you believe in something greater than your being. It touches every branch and illuminates every thread like hair upon your head. Until rising further into the day it is lost to the coming afternoon. The water like glass was unmoving, not a single boat bobbed and all was still expect for a inconsistent clink as a loose mast knocked gently in an undetected breeze. My ears becoming ever more vulnerable insisted I turn around, as did Bea peeping from under the warmth of her cover. Her cheeks burned red and her eyes somewhat startled by the cold air had turned glassy like large marbles. Large naked thistle heads hung ready to burst in the hedgerows and the humming sound of nature I had been so enchanted in the summer mornings had died down to a hush as the autumn sent the landscape into decay. A funny time autumn. Where our worlds die into the earth, rotting by our feet and yet by some strange human twist we find great beauty in it.
Walking back upon the main street of Tarbert we headed for the village shop. Our pram, like a thousand rattling beetles clattered along the pavement. Cutting any silence or youthful birdsong in its wake. Passing the small chip shop, the holiday cottages, a work shop and loom shed I made my way somewhat abruptly – as its very hard to make a silent entrance with a pram – into Brownies village shop. Collecting a single packet of sausages, one tin of beans and one child’s comic – upon which sat a green plastic dragon. I left, facing the whole day to fill. Like a youthful promise waiting to bloom I found myself a little lost in thought upon how exactly how myself and Bea should fill it. However children need very little and upon seeing that her magazine held a dragon, Bea rather impressed by this sheer twist of luck, sat relaxed and asked very little of me from that moment on. Apart from that I might unpack her shiny treasure and leave her to her own devices for the foreseeable future. Of which, feeling somewhat renewed by the youth of the morning, I made myself a cup of burning hot tea and did just that.
To the pink light in all our mornings. May it never fade.
You can find me over on Instagram and Facebook @islandwife_hebridesblog
Head over to YouTube to see what daily life on Harris is really like and come along with us on our adventures