Jonathan: New Year’s Day, 2015. Hope re-born. Fragile and tenous as gossamer, but hope nonetheless. Promises made ; old commitments burnished. The first day of the rest of our lives – each of us, all of us. Stepping up or stepping out : from now and here to there and thereafter ; never a day sufficient unto itself but rather of a piece with its yesterday and tomorrow. And if now is the First of January and here is the Outer Hebrides, then there’s certainly one hope that’ll be fulfilled over six months or so – the weather! Today? Cloud so low, so dense, so heavy that dawn just rolled over and went back to sleep.
On the croft in Eriskay, Sunny Boy is in hibernation. A tap on the screen and all he can manage is a few blinks, a mumbled complaint (sorry not a complaint – he just states the facts) about 3MWh since the end of March, before nodding off again. But let’s not take that for a no, just a not now – or at least not right now. So, hens feed exchanged for eggs, sheep counted … and back home there’s mid-morning coffee and toast in the kitchen.
It’s noon, and all the lights are on. Online, upstairs in the office, checking the weather forecast, counting down the hours to a night wavering between sleep and coming storm – a raging westerly tearing at the roof just feet above our heads. But now, right now, here amidst endless variations on on the dark side of grey – there appears a hint – a mere tinge – of blue. Blue as in slate – but blue nonetheless.
Back in the gloom of the croft store, we see – we’d see were we there – a small green light start to blink … then take hold. A display lights up, and we listen – were we there at all, we might – listen quietly … closely … our breaths held a moment .. or two. A hum? Oh yes – it’s Sunny Boy singing the blues!
Jonathan: 2013 blogs, before today’s: just two posts in January, and then two more in July – that’s it. The latter part of 2012 wasn’t much better. It wasn’t that there wasn’t time to blog; or rather it wasn’t just that there wasn’t time! Nor that there seemed nothing good to report : quite the reverse – seen in retrospect. True, it wasn’t easy to find time for anything other than slog away at whatever task could least be put off. It’s been a long time since I’ve had leisure enough for anything more than to scan a magazine or snatch a few pages of a novel I started so many months ago I can’t remember when. Blogging. – or at least my kind of blog – is by and large reflective in nature, and though I strive to write with as much immediacy and freshness as possible, my blogs have nothing in common with the supposedly raw, live prattle of social media. (That’s not an apology, by the way.) Without time, space and – above all – freedom from (or at least a suspension of) anxiety, my blogs just don’t get written, and the many threads of thought that could be followed wherever they might lead remain but flotsam and jetsam of thought – carried away on the stream of consciousness. But today – with blogs not just drafted, but published immediately – that’s changed. Or rather, a change that has been in the making for several months, perhaps longer, has now been realized. Workload has eased, yes: many major projects are – if not complete – at least as far advanced as allows an easing off the throttle. But it’s not just a question of facts, but of perception. At last we see not only that the end of the tunnel is in sight, but that we begin to make out the character and detail of the country that lies ahead. The time when we can stop and take time out (by which I mean nothing more than a day off – without work at all other than feeding the livestock) is still some way off, but in the meantime, finding ourselves making good progress after all, we can afford to take things easier, and at least make the most of each moment – whether in work or ease.
Jonathan: Denise and Mum are just back from Daliburgh – with flowers and a bottle of wine. Together they arrange the flowers in vases around the house, and as Denise lights the fire for the evening, Mum settles herself down with the TV. Denise pours a glass and sets about preparing the evening meal. It’s been a dry day – the first without heavy showers for several weeks, but the wind – though gradually lessening from the severe gale of last night and early this morning – has remained blustry and finger-numblingly cold. A blanket of grey cloud – broken only in ragged patches of palest blue-grey – rolls away to the south east, and as the light fades slowly the waving blades of New Zealand flax retreat into the twighlight, the herbacious borders into the deep shadows of the high garden wall.