I have been doing some of late, when I really should have been busy with other things; perhaps a bit of cycling, or some writing. But instead my mind has been elsewhere, fighting a slough of despond at times, and latterly embroiled with that foul thing we call work. It is necessary, and sometimes fun.
But I dream again, for the latest issue of Earthlines thudded on the mat earlier; truth be told the postie handed it to me over the gate, in a windy drizzle. The gates are closed because, as happened in the same week 12 months ago when the house was empty for a few days, the garden was invaded, by cattle. Oh yes, someone else’s black & white heifers have been causing havoc on those manicured lawns, trimmed borders and other wild spots that go to make up The Policies. And it is infuriating.
Did I not just spend three months earlier in the year seeking recovery from hundreds of cloven hoof holes up to 4″ deep, filling, forking, rolling, seeding? I remember it well. And now I face it all again. First up will be countless trips into the field, with barrow, gathering mounds of fresh diggings which the mole seems to find easier work. But at least he brings it to the surface for me.
So other peoples’ beasts and fences are a source of some angst at the moment. And on the back of the destruction of the chicken flock, and with no eggs, those deep yellow ones you only get from your own garden, for a quick and effortless lunch; on the back of the long-awaited parcels arriving, predictably, 20 minutes after we set off for the Northern Wastes; on the back of an alarming asthmatic consequence; on the back of the angst of the Northern Wastes….. it’s not been fun of late, and I’ve been quiet, you may have noticed.
But Earthlines arrives, and I dream more. As always, with any magazine that comes in, I turn to the book reviews. Tim Dee’s Four Fields caught my eye down at Wigtown; but I put it back and opted instead for his The Running Sky, which awaits my attention. And there’s a fine article from Miriam Darlington, on otters, or more specifically Sandaig, Camusfearna as you may know it. And I remember getting lost on the trail down to the waterfall, and sitting as the rising sun glistened on The Ring, and dreaming.
And I’m intrigued by Birds & People, by Mark Cocker and David Tipling. It promises much, from hunting with eagles in Mongolia, to Amerindian shamans; and good food, feathers for warmth, folklore and more. A book, it says, as much about us as about birds. Hmm.
Now the sojourn to the north east was made with good intentions; four bikes were towed 200 miles, and back again. But only one turned a wheel, and it wasn’t The Grasshopper, despite perfect weather and managed time. For that was when the call came in, the one of the cows in the garden, and skies darkened, deeper, wretched.
I had been aware that our hosts at Earthlines sought a buyer for their Two Ravens publishing house. Dreams, again. And now I see they’re ending their time on Lewis, intent on the Emerald Isle. So there’s a house for sale, and a croft, as well as a publishing house. But the magazine will continue, dug from different peats perhaps.
It’s a while since I’ve wandered the Stones of Callanish, watched from the Ness lighthouse as the waves thundered in, thinking of the guga hunt across the water. There are midges, and the wind can blow. Cycling may not be easy. But then again, can the wind possibly be more unkind than that which sweeps across The Towers, almost relentlessly? And I think of the days when we had a few Shetland sheep, and ponies too, and said, Never Again.
But we can dream. And if you’ve a mind to do a bit more than dream….. go on, have a look, at the house, and the croft, and what might be. Make it so. Could I, possibly….. ach, dreaming again; or am I?