Jonathan: The geese too have Spring in their step! The oldest pair of geese we have on the croft are now four years old, and have stuck together faithfully. He hisses at everyone, but I’ve never known him show any real aggression, except to other ganders. He and his partner are inseparable, so it was odd to see him on his own this morning, and he didn’t want to come over to where I was feeding the others. After seeing to the hens, I went exploring: and there she was in the old barrel I put straw into a fortnight or so ago: and she was sitting on a clutch of eggs!
Jonathan: … it’s Spring! Yesterday, close to our cottage at Askernish, the first lapwing, with its oh-so-distinctive call timed with the downward swoops of its flight; and then today high above the croft in Eriskay, the first two skylarks, battling it out in song. Down below, a Blue Hebridean Crofter (named after the male of the species, with his distinctive blue overalls) staking out his territory by means of posts fashioned out of wood and metal supporting a mesh woven out of fine wire. Within this enclosure the Greater Blue will during the course of the summer gather up a store of food for winter.
Jonathan: Three days of still and sun – the first this year in which we’ve felt warm without having to do some kind of active work – just stand still and soak it up; the sunshine of so early in spring is so precious! That said, we were busy, not least in collecting a full trailer load of seaweed from Smercleit Taobh a Deas for our compost heap. It was lovely to be on the beach with sound of gentle waves on the sand, the voices of many species of wading birds (the original social twitterers!) and the plaintive cry of curlews. The seaweed smelt good, it looks good pile up like that, and don’t we just know for sure that all that goodness is going to turn into the best ever potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beans …. ! Back in the garden, at the end of day, a tub of early daffodils by the front door is swaying in the breeze: a thin veil of cloud has rolled out across the sky, thick enough to dull the light, thin enough to ensure a cold night ahead. The breeze picks up as night draws in, and by the time Tilly and I are back from our late evening walk there are already broken flower heads strewn on the ground. The weather forecast is for a week of stormy weather, and with that returns a hopeless frustration of all outdoor work. Here in the islands, the consumerist economic model of contemporary life, urban and anodyne, is still utterly trumped by the forces of nature. The stormy blast, the mighty seas, the vast weight of a leaden sky, the unforgiving rocks: these are the powers that be, the forces to be reckoned with, the force majeure against which there is no claim or defense. Life here is still as earthily romantic as it was two hundred years ago, when the Outer Hebrides provided inspiration for the poets, novelists and composers of the Romantic Movement: to them the tempests and turmoils of life – auf Deutsch bekam es ‘Sturm und Drang’ bekannt – were the episodes of a life worth living. And I for one would rather this life than that of red tail-lights streaming across the the dark void between office and home, computer and TV.