Friday, 20 May 2016

Sandwood Bay - Movements of Time

The dominant question last weekend was "what would this place have looked like 10,000 years ago?" and the question played with the landscape we were in so that time seemed to twist and turn and to lose track would have been easy.

What would it have been like 10,000 years ago? We were in and around Sandwood Bay, a gorgeous landscape with beach, bog, and rocks (jings, the rocks were great!). What would it have been like 10,000 years ago?

It's difficult to envision, as coasts were changed, and 10,000 years ago Sandwood Bay was no bay, but inland and something else entirely. Maybe we're looking too far back: it's difficult to imagine, with the tumultuous sea and the fresh wind just how this could once have been inland. Under glacier, yes sure - the rocks showed the signs well enough, colder, wetter, drier - yup, but inland? What would Sandwood Bay be without the sea? Without that glorious beach?
I imagined so much. I built a cairn around a struggling wee rowan on the top of Cnoc a' Gheodha Ruaidh. And I hope that the trees will return. The birds bring the rowan, the birch, the Scots pine: the wind brings them. What of the other trees? Hazel can swim and germinate when left on land after the floods (high tide, spring tides, heavy rains). Holly, the birds bring (and thank goodness, for they need that fortress to nest in); ash the wind - but the size of the keys, I doubt they fly far. Oak? Animal.
What a place though. Whether we're there as the past or the present Sandwood Bay is one for the senses. Oystercatchers calling all through the night. The smell of the sea pervading everything. The feel of the sun (I admit, my skin did burn). The taste of truly fresh, perfect air (and the slightly stale air in the bothy, the whisky warming my belly at night, food cooked outdoors, the fire..). And of course something to look at every which way I turned. Golden plover for the first time, flowering plants, the sea (I think my heart loves the sea), the lochs, the hills.

The taste of freedom
The feel of life
The sound of joy
The smell of relaxation
The sight of hope

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Changing Seasons

It's been silence from me for a while. There has been a death, an extremely sad death of an incredibly lovely person, and work has not been flowing well for me either.

Changing my world sometimes feels like a losing battle. I have been faced with fois gras and refused it, but that's a small drop in a big ocean. April was meant to be a month of looking at cleaning, but I never changed a thing- though to be honest I already use eco products in the home, and love them. The change didn't feel big enough, perhaps.

This month is the month that I look at travel. Ideal as I spent the first day travelling  back from Barcelona, my first trip abroad this year. Where else would I like to go? So many places, but first let me tell you where I'm travelling in my mind...

A couple of weeks ago I needed something to help me relax. There had been a lot of heavy stuff which had left my shoulders bowed and my spirit weighed down. I needed something to lift myself up again, and when it turned out that I wouldn't be able to attend my yoga class for the next five weeks I decided to take yoga home and do a daily yoga practice.

It hasn't worked out every day: some days there is just no time for even the simplest downward dog, but very quickly I really noticed the negative effects of not doing yoga on any single day, both on my body and my mood. Today I haven't done any form of stretching yet and I feel a slight stress forming behind my eyes. I want that yoga. For it isn't just the stretch that's incredible, it's the breathing and the fact that it shuts out everything else except the particular pose you're in right then.

Yoga helps me feel lighter, I feel happier and more comfortable in my body. More aware of my capabilities and ability. It lifts my mood and makes me more comfortable, able to deal with the different role I have to play each day.

One practice was particularly memorable: It was the first time I was fully alone since I had received the news about my friend's death. It was a day of weather, with warm sunshine and hail and snow showers too and the landscape was awe-inspiring. The birches were just turning green (you know the look when they're just surrounded by a haze of the most glorious, juicy green you can imagine - life feels lush at this time of year) and the eagles were soaring. I was mostly through my survey, and just needed to cross a wee ravine to continue on the other side. Well, inside the ravine it was like another world. Nothing short of perfect. - Tumbling rocks, delicate colours, still air, rushing water. Hints of green, native trees, lichens, mosses, lifelifelife.

So I had a break. Sat for five minutes and watched the water flow. Ate some nuts. Relaxed.

About to get back to work, I thought I would try to stretch out the pain I had developed in my back from my heavy rucksack, the spade I was carrying, and the peat probing I was doing. I found a flattish spot, and started to breathe. It turned into the most successful, immersive, intense yoga practice I've known to date. It probably only lasted fifteen minutes, but afterwards I felt like I could fly.

What is it that makes being in nature so good for me? I'm not the only one that finds this, but maybe some of us have forgotten. There's something very rich about being alone, no one else knowing where you are, and just being you. Maybe it's Shinrin-yoku, maybe it's love, but nature restores me like nothing else. The yoga was intense, it made my muscles and my soul sing, but it was the location that did that. I could do the same routine right now and not feel that same effect, but add in rushing water, put some shingle below my hands (who needs a mat?) and breath in the clean, pure air and that makes it worthy of memories.

That day helped. It came like a bright light when I needed it most. A day of feeling. I'll always carry my friend with me for though he couldn't live, I can and I will, and his memory will come along with me for the ride.