My legs drapped over the end of the bed as my heels nonchalantly kicked at its wooden frame. Bea and Noah milled around me, though quite independently with no input on my behalf being asked for and although it was surprisingly cold, I was not surprised to see them both half dressed. ‘Clunk, clunk’. If anyone else had been in my presence and started to kick in this manner it would of enraged me, a sense of uncalled for anger inhaled by my veins like steam. But, due to a lackening energy I just stared – upwards – somewhat blankly at a blank ceiling mirroring a blank mind. Whilst contemplating everything and nothing simultaneously. Of which, I have come to know, mothers are quite partial to. It had been, I am happy to report a rather wet and windy time on Harris. So much so that the voluntary fire service had had to errect the community Christmas tree on more than one occasion.
‘Why on earth are they errecting such a thing in the pitch black Chris? Only a group of men would do that!’ I had scoffed rather innocently whilst figuring out just how many packets of half used pasta we had to make use of.
‘Because dear girl, they all have jobs and so its the only time they are all free’
Only a woman, wouldnt have thought of that and being a woman myself, this, I had not thought of.
It did however stay up, eventually, rather lumbersome and proud looking. Although as of this moment unlit. Propped infront of the Harris tweed shops to which a string of fairy lights outlined the roofs. Making them incredibly quaint looking and picturesque. Like those lillieput lane ornaments – my mother always had those. Across the way from Fasgadh there was even a small ‘Merry Christmas’ sign illuminated in red, white and green. To which everytime I glanced at I thought was the opening of a new Italian resturant.
All the way along the main street of Tarbert hung – as if by a smidgen of leftover fairy dust a single string of multicoloured lights. My goodness was I excited to see them. With tears swelling in my eyes, as they sparked the recall of our first night in Harris nearly one year before.
When we arrived off the ferry, with a loud clunk on the bridge it was nearing dark and swinging past the house we would come to call home for the year we arrived on the main street. Illuminated before us, guiding us down until we settled at the hotel. ‘See they knew we were coming, put them up just for us’ I remember so clearly chris saying that, because in this unknown land with its foriegn signage I was in awe to whether or not it held any truth. And like a eyed glazed child with their face pushed against fogged glass I held no reponse. As if watching a magical parade I only looked on, as the lights bled into the night. Each blub soft against a wintering sky by my tear pricked lids. Exhausted on a scale more than just phsyical, very far from the only place I had known and yet, strangely on familair ground. I cried, at peace.
‘Clunk’ swung my legs until a small, almost inaudible noise made its way through the window glass. A strange noise for this time of night in Harris. I sat up, a little muffeled yes, but definatly a happening outside. Pressing my face upon the cold glass I peered into the early night. Where nesseled between the gin distillery and the tweed shops stood a small group. Huddeled together like artic penguins with the sheer desire to keep warm, awaiting, confidently the switching on of the Harris Christmas lights. As the lights pinged into life a happy cheer rose up over a muffeled applause. I felt all at once a great sense of comfort all around me. That I, Lucy Martin, significant on this earth by no means, should have found myself in this place. That I lived within this small yet profoud community, with its simple and timeless gatherings and would go on doing so. Had I been on mainland hundreds of people would of crammed the streets. With faces hazily passing one another. There would of been a band performing and stalls from which to buy things. And of course, that is and can be jolly festive! But so can standing round a tree, with just those you know, and little else. Cutting through the cold hebridean air hung the singular notes of a lone bagpipe. Ringing out the rounded notes wishing everyone a merry christmas, as I sat and listened, my breath fogging up the glass. And a happy new year I sang and a happy new year.
One of the things that has made our first year in the Hebrides so exciting is YOU! Thankyou to each and every one of you who reads, emails, comments, writes letters and even travels to come and meet us! I am so blessed to have had a whole year writing as well as taking part in some amazing opportunities because of it!
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As always, from over the sea, lucy.