Spring has begun to fashion herself on the Isle as golden sways of daffodils brave face in the cold. Crisp air, the kind in which washing comes off the line cold and fresh. The wind has broken leaving a welcome breeze in its wake. Washing days. I live for days such as those. I have never been motivated by money. Which is probably a contributing factor as to why I don’t have any. A large one I would say. It does not empower me nor make me feel a sense of security. I don’t find it particularly interesting and I do find that it mostly leads to more expense. Instead I yearn for those quiet periods. The in-betweens. The grey areas in life to which most people pass by without a backwards glance. The kind in which I peg out washing like bunting. Listening to its airy flapping in the wind. Or dwelling my eyes on the inside of a flower, intricate and complex in symmetry. The sliding on of a worn in jumper, the kind from the men’s section that fit over my hands like make shift gloves. Washing thick chocolate like dirt off potatoes and the kitchen sink. And so I, laden with a brimming basket and copious amounts of rainbowed plastic pegs one morning thrust my legs into wellies and into the start of a new season. Spring.
Winters in the Hebrides are not for the inpatient nor faint of heart. If you live for the warmth of the sun on your back I can in my limited experience tell you Harris is not the residence for you. This being said, for all my adaptability, I was longing for the length of a day. I yearned for towering dashes of colour in pots and the task of scrubbing stubborn dirt from under my nails. Cold salads dripping in dressing and bulging fruit, juice running down the length of my arm. However I knew, lingering in the background, that such a time brings with it a great period of solitude. As Chris becomes his busiest and the outside world demands every little bit of him. Until he is no longer mine. And I have to wait, patiently for him to come back me. Hopefully bearing some rich and delicious dish. I am learning to cope in these times. I understand what I need to do in order for the house to continuously tick with order and how to fill the time. Bella any day is due her second litter of kittens in the last 12 months. Checking her every morning in the hope that I shall open the door to her feeding a number of blind babes. I get a little rush of adrenaline at the thought of having something new to love and cherish. I love having things to take care of. It fills my time. Wondering about hoards of children I am yet to conceive and animals to which I am always trying to persuade Chris to let me nurse. Can I care for an orphan Lamb this year Chris? No. Flat and firm came forth. Why not? You don’t have time Lucy. I’ll make time I said and went back to sipping my tea and wondering if I had enough blankets to go round. I am often drawn into a thought process these days as Bea wakes ever more grown than the previous day. The realisation that my children will not need me forever and I will at some point in a distant but nearing future will be labelled somewhat redundant. Followed by a notion to keep the conveyor belt moving, the basket full so I never reach the check out.
I have some favourite ‘things’ in Harris. The unmistakable swoon of an eagle. Even through my unreliable eyesight I can spot its rectangular body swirling the air like a cauldron. The creamy liquor of fresh tablet. That’s a good one. And highland coos, everyone likes those. Something strangely graceful about them. As If overly shy, they like the hidden comfort of a long fringe. Though I wouldn’t want to meet one at last orders. But the sheep, I love the sheep. I love them milling around the house. Mouths ever moving as if nattering only to pass the time of day. I have come to recognise certain facial markings and personalities. I have even come to name one or too. Much to the quiet hilarity of the crofter who probably thought I was just being very English. But Mildred is her name and I am very fond of her. She bleats at the back door most days and stands square faced as if I owe her something. I probably do. Lambing was and is a special time. To experience it up close and so intimately. The sheep one by one would take themselves high up out the way and a few days later return with one or two small unsteady babes. I stood and watched binoculars forever on the ledge. I loved it. Though Chris would frequently bring lamb chops home. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. And then the rain came, oh how it came. It never ceased. I awoke to an almighty rage at the window. The rain tumbling from the sky and the wind screaming for me by name. Spring had been pushed out. Put in her place. And I, clutching the washing from the line muttered something French running back into the house. Clutching what felt like winter in my arms.