Waiting for the rubbish removal is a momentous occasion in our household. As Noah has become accustomed to patiently await its appearance at the gate steps. Clutching his own much loved plastic bin truck in his hands. Mustard coloured with a small lift up lid it is well played with and well loved. The truck upon arriving reverses its way down, letting out a rhythmic bleeping before finally driving down again to meet him. With a mixture of shyness and pride Noah can be seen holding his matchbox sized toy as high as he can take it. Admiration as strong and sweet as undiluted juice. I stood and watched him as he watched with glittering eyes an ordinary task take place. Walking to wrap my arm around him before pointing out some detail I don’t now recall, his dark chocolate eyes were large with wonder beneath his pale rimmed glasses. ‘Would Noah like to drive a truck when hes older?’. Hesitant he pondered the possibility of this idea. ‘A red truck’ was his wish. I witnessed the silent applause shining outward from his young face for the men hauling the worlds daily rubbish to some distant place that isn’t that distant. And I wondered when his eyes would stop shining like that. When would the worlds ordinary magic become overlooked? When is it that our children stop viewing the man who clicks the wheelie bin into place as their daily hero. When do we all?
I have tried to keep myself as busy as possible during Scotland’s lock down. It is not having less social interaction I’ve struggled to get used to, but more. As Chris has been home both day and night I’ve had to learn how to be around company more so than I’m usually used to. I have baked countless boxes of chocolate chip cookies. Apple cakes with dark sugar coatings. Tiny jam tarts made from easy peasy pastry and thick oatmeal slabs to have with milk at breakfast. Scrubbed, fixed and painted the house within an inch of its life and dug, cut, raked and planted the garden to within an inch of its. Anything to keep my hands down and mind up and in its midst found a rich peace that made my heart healthier and eyes shine.
Luckily the weather has been gracious for the majority (so far) and so throwing the doors open in the early morning before flinging the kids out with them has been possible. This has been a particular sanity saver. However on days where the rain has lashed and the wind has howled I have struggled. Struggled with the mess that living creates. Struggled with dripping washing inbreeding on the radiators. Struggled with the ever ringing cries of ‘Can I have?’ and ‘But I want it!’. Struggled in the chaos and struggled mostly to keep the mess in my own head from spilling out in the age old form of patience lost. I have always tried to hedge my bets though. ‘MUM! Its too windy!’ ‘Windy? Is it? I hadn’t noticed cant be that bad’ I chime. Bea taking no prisoners as usual fastens her set of glinting eyes upon me. Whilst Noah clinging to the door frame studies Shug’s ears flapping wildly above his head. ‘Ill turn to an ice cube ma! I’ll be building a snowma!’ I like to call it building character, but everyone’s different.
There are parts of Islay which are mountainous but mostly its relatively flat. Shaped overall like a horse shoe with a little bit off centre jutting out into the waters current. Standing at the waters edge where the villages cluster round you can see the immensity of the island with areas blurring into white signalling a dwelling here and there. On a clear day looking out from Port Charlotte to my right I can see a slither of mainland. Whilst on a very clear day the most northern tip of Ireland can be made out on the horizon. To my left the paps of Jura hold the eye line. Its hard to distinguish where Islay ends and Jura begins as the landscapes seams bleed into one. Its a beautiful view. Frequently in the early hours of the morning when the rest of the world is still granted with the blessing of sleep I watch the dawn bleeding through the cow gate at the bottom of the garden. Blessing the heads of the cows in the adjacent croft.
A rather large, albeit young bull calls the croft next to our house home. Shug sensing the testosterone coming round from his morning wee likes to give him a bark or two. But it falls on deaf ears. ‘He’d flatten you Shug and you know it. Come on now away, away’. ‘Ignore him’ I say exchanging a set of raised brows with the bull. ‘He’s short a penny’. And the bull satisfied in agreement heaves his body elsewhere loaded with gentle indifference. I do love cows. Heavy set with large lashed lids, cumbersome in weight. Aloof and uncomplicated. Happy to look on and simply wait. Waiting for what, I don’t know, do you? The rain perhaps? Or the days grass to grow? Nevertheless very content in doing it. ‘There is a simple solution’ say her eyes glistening with secrets of age. But falling on blind eyes, secrets they have stayed as we mere humans tend to gear towards the easy solution rather than the simplistic. So in translation they are inevitably lost for the two are very different when you boil them down to a broth.
‘How now brown cow?’ I ask as a large head lifts up with a mechanical tilt, gently grinding the earth into a juice. We stare for a moment into each others worlds. Mine being only human more complicated than hers, though a large degree of that is self induced the cow would say. Both breathing the same morning air in and out. Fulfilled for that moment in simply waiting for the grass to grow. My stance is generally short lived however as my early risers murmur in the background for attention – mainly food – and the chill as it always does, gets the better of me. Milo our inky black cat by this point has usually emerged to seek the comforting solace of the utility room. He moves with the athletic attitude of a hunting panther. Accomplished and arrogant. Intentional in every step, two glittering eyes emerging through the grass like headlights blistering the night. Tail curved, body long and low, shoulder blades up. Ears finely tuned to pick up the quiet snap of an unfortunate twig underfoot. He retreats indoors to purr and furl against my legs, but not before covertly turning his sulking nose up in distaste at Shug. I see you Milo. My eyes don’t miss a trick.
So I rest frequently at the back door and watch the light pierce through the gap in Jura’s mountain tops. With a child at my feet or a baby on my hip. I watch with glittering eyes the sun giving birth to new light, warming the earth below. And I’m grateful that at the age of twenty seven the world, try though it might, has not yet hardened me and I still see the magic in the dustbin man,
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
With love from Scotland, Lucy.