Silverbirch Magic

As part of the Rewild Challenge (www.http://learn.wearewildness.com/p/rewildyourlife)I spent half an hour outside today in the sparkling sunshine. It was cold, but not so cold that I couldn’t sit outside in the garden for a while and soak up that glorious weather.

The task for the day was to breathe with the trees and realise that mutual dependence where we give carbon dioxide to them and they give oxygen to us. My exchange with the trees in my garden was magical – they are so beautiful; they have an energy that makes it easy to understand why they are one of the most important trees in the Celtic tree alphabet. I used their leaves carefully to make the most beautiful yellow dye for wool; the smell from the dyepot filled the workshop with the most amazing heady scent.

Today is Day 21 of the Rewild Challenge which has taken me outside every day for half an hour regardless of the weather – some days longer than that. It is the second time I’ve done the 30-day programme, the last time a couple of years ago in October.

It hasn’t been so easy this time to be as physical as before, but reading the activities and the philosophy behind the challenge, I realise that the very reason  I left Stockholm and moved to Arran 40 years ago was so that I could rewild my whole life on an everyday basis, climbing the mountains on Arran, sometimes with a baby in the carrier; growing vegetables and herbs for healing; making yoghurt and soft cheese; catching mackerel – or at least sitting in the boat and trying to catch mackerel while everyone else filled their lines; living without a car and cycling everywhere, learning to sail and most of all by setting up my spinning and weaving workshop – very appropriately called Silverbirch and learning what was possible to achieve in the rural economy and what was too idealistic.

I am more physically limited now than previously, but my spirit is still wild. More to the point my children have an appreciation of the importance of carrying on these ideas. My youngest son is planning to set up a forest garden – my spirit will be with him all the way.

 

Memories

 

grey seal portrait - shutterstock

Today a surprise visit from friends Norman and Althea brought back memories of the time they used live in Whiting Bay and the astonishing fact that it is 20 years since they left and moved back to Morayshire. We’ve kept in touch and thankfully exchanged visits when I was able to visit Findhorn a few times and a wonderful trip to Pluscarden Abbey, still a working monastery. Plus the bonus of driving up to Lochranza, catching the Claonaig ferry and then driving via Oban up the Great Glen, stopping off at Fort Augustus to watch the boats manouevering the locks on the Caledonian Canal and arriving to a welcome at Roseisle where our friends live now.

Today was about reliving those times and choosing our favourite Whiting Bay memory. When our kids Jenny, Kirsty and Simon were pupils at Whiting Bay School, Althea and I were both at work and child minding was an issue. Many thanks are due to Kate at the Coffee Pot, just where the school bus stopped. The kids arrived there fifteen minutes before their harassed parents and were served carrot cake while they waited for their Mums, who were then served carrot cake and cappuchinos and an afterschool tradition was born.

The Coffee Pot is still in the same place,  and though all the rest of us have moved away from that neighbourhood, those times live on in our memories, especially Kate’s Carrot Cake.

Daughter and family are in Copenhagen this week, bringing another layer of memory for me as Copenhagen was the stopover place in the years I was travelling between Stockholm and Kilmarnock. Some of my best friends were Danish and I remember especially the day I left Sweden after finishing my oral exams for my Masters (I passed), going down on the train on my way to teach English in summer school in St. Helier in the Channel Islands. My friends met me off the train with tickets to hear Wilhelm Kempf playing Beethoven in the summer night at Tivoli Gardens, followed by a trip to a jazz cafe and dancing until the wee small hours. Great!

I’m so grateful for memories and the friends who shared them, especially when we can get together now, reminisce and create new ones – like eating crab rolls at the Wineport and seeing grey seals on the rocks on the way to Sannox Beach.

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