north light

Month: February 2018

The machair at Northton is suddenly full of lapwings, scores of them, the land is dotted with them, the sky is singing with them, forty or fifty rising up at once in front of us, spilling flashes of black and brilliant white in their acrobatics, till the heart is bursting full with it, spilling song, spilling poems, spilling light.

Water and Sky

Monday morning, snowlight. Starlings on the wire.

I’m not the only one to be astonished by the mimicry of starlings.

“Chris Watson the sound recordist captures the sounds of starlings on the Island of Coll. The birds seem to emulate the sound of a two-stroke engine memorised by previous generations and passed down through history.” – listen here

boat, Keose harbour

(Sometimes the world arranges itself into a black and white photograph.)

Sunrise today 7.50am, sunset 5.29pm. 9 hours and 39 minutes of daylight, 3 hours and more longer than the shortest day.

to greet the morning

Word of the day: “numinous” – revealing the presence of the divine; giving rise to a feeling of spiritual transcendence, especially in nature or art (from Latin numen – divinity, divine power).

~ @robgmacfarlane on twitter

(Twitter has much that is wrong with it, but the word of the day from Robert Macfarlane is one of the things worth still being there for.)

The internet makes me think I should keep looking for new places to photograph, or for novel ways to capture the same. My heart asks me otherwise: to repeat and repeat, over and over, with gratitude, and love.

“I’ll tell you right now, the doors to the world of the wild self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door; if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much that you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés, quoted at Whiskey River here (my emphasis)

Being Here

The first weeks of the first year of being here are all mixed up with snow and ice, with dislocation and fear of falling, with car warning lights and a broken spring all limiting my travelling, the paths that I might follow. Still, I let the camera pull me outside and on a winter’s morning I already know there’s a safe and easy path that will lead me through the moor to a view to snow topped hills.

The weather here is so intense, so changeable. It dominates your thinking, it changes how you see. This week we’ve had ice, snow, hail, a night of gales and battering rain, and a day of the most exquisite sunshine, so lovely there was nothing for it but to sit in the garden for a while and simply soak up being here.

Every time I step outside: to the garden, to the bins, to the car, there they are, these noisy iridescent starlings. They call and click and chatter and whistle, swooping off and up and round and back. I knew that starlings mimicked but I wasn’t ready for how different they sound here, how they call with the sound of the sea. Even when they are not here I feel their absence, their missing presence.

The practice of photography helps me notice where I am. I am grateful for the familiarity of practice, for the fundamentals of the task. Watching colour, patterns, light.

I’m trying to build the habit of posting here once a week. Sometimes I feel I don’t have much to say, I’m too busy paying attention to simply being here.

The sky is twilight blue the whole way home, and the lochans by the roadside as the road bends and curves are the palest twilight blue, like the flashes of a torch, like the thumping of a heart.

Reflections of Stornoway Harbour

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