Always a challenge - family holidays. And especially when you plan for beaches and sun and you get wood burners, rain and waterproofs. Let me tell you about my hatred of sports/weather specific gear and outward bound kit. All part of my strong dislike of 'doing what I'm told' or 'what I should'. I'll admit to leggings for the gym but always black and normal vest tops. A few years ago I finally gave in to the Scottish weather and bought a Didriksons jacket- stylish and bloody warm - made for Swedish winters- I had to rest my case on that one. But this holiday I was totally caught out and a long walk to see standing stones and abandoned villages, left me chilled to the bone when the rain came on half way through. Oh the ignominy of having to buy light weight waterproofs in Bute in July. Remember I was born in Scotland - I should know better....
......But it is magical and beautiful here so we will make the best of it. Another walk (this time in my waterproofs) to a ruined church at the tip of Bute in the poaring rain- at this point it had been raining incessantly all day held a perfect moment. An elderly woman parked front of us and walked up slowly behind us, no doubt tutting at our children's bickering, or so I thought. As the children careered around the newly mown grass avoiding standing on the flattened tombs (their reverential wet weather church yard game- believe me they have visited a lot of ruined churches.....) I came across her lighting a candle in a prayer nook. We spoke and she told me this place was her husband's favourite and the family had sprinkled his ashes here. She told me that she comes back every year 'and will do so as long as she can walk up the hill' in order to remember him. At that moment I felt my heart swell with the love she had known and the love I have, despite all the difficulties. Life, family life is hard but it is worth every previous second
There is a face in that tree - can you see it? Well I can and I know it's a very kind spirit. These woods are here for us and I never come out of them feeling anything but 'better'. Good times with friends on a summer day.
Beach life is good. Unaccustomed to it as we are, still we manage. And UK, well Scottish beaches are a thing apart. They are all sand and shingle, rock pools and crabs. Sunburn and wind caused goose flesh. Always a mix of extremes- just the way I like it.
But this year our beach was much changed- swathes of missing sand and newly appeared long, flat rock formations and clusters of boulders like a family of trolls hunkering together in what remained.
'But it hasn't changed for years', I kept saying to locals. Some looked at me sympathetically, others tried to tell me that the beach changed, subtly, EVERY day. What they were trying to tell me was that you can't keep perfect memories about something that lives and changes, that is in itself a force of nature. Best to embrace the ever changing coastline, to see it for what it is - a metaphor for life.
I've been spending time in my head with all the things going on. In other words the winter brain fog where I let my mind run around and around in concentric circles. Despite this my sporadic productivity has still managed to produce a set of 8 poems I am 'tears in eyes' proud off. I have spent hours listening to that misanthrope Josh Tillman. I've concluded he must see in my head or we are cut from the same bit of dishevelled black velvet. I am still wayward and difficult, which are not necessarily the bad things they can be.
I have been thankful for the fact that it's all still holding together. It is in part that I can see the beauty wherever I turn. It's like a magic trick I keep thinking I will lose the power to conjure up - this ability to see and to find value in everyday life. There are a million threads of narrative in one turn of the head, a vast world with a spin and a click of your heels. And I do 'feel it all' and sometimes it hurts but sometimes it helps.