We (the dog and I) got back to the croft as the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon. That perfect time of day when the northern latitudinal Lewis light, so beloved by photographers and artists, takes hold, casting high contrast shadows across croft land, fence posts turning to sundial arms, streaking the golden grasses of Ness.
The fridge was full, so after Mac was fed the menu options were multiple thanks to the butchers of Cross stores, the local emporium that supplies everything from a needle to an anchor as well as good meat. There were lamb shanks and liver, local eggs and marag dubh but I had a big bag of mussels to use so that was to be devoured.
Olive oil, garlic, white wine, pepper, parsley and slosh of cream and they were done in minutes. The rest of the wine washed it all down. And as a case of decent red had been delivered earlier another bottle was cracked. It would be rude not to.
I built a fire in grate. Rolled and knotted pages from the Stornoway Gazette, kindling chopped from old wood found in the byre by a Finnish axe, a pair of split logs and a little coal to maintain the burn. The lit paper flared and the rest of the little pyre takes care of itself.
Weasels the cat arrives, popping in through the slightly ajar kitchen window looking for food and an armchair in which to spend the evening. He and the dog have been really wary of each other but seem to have found an uneasy truce based on non-interference of each other’s dinner arrangements. He gets fed a packet of cat food I keep in for when he shows his ginger face and then settles himself into the chair opposite mine.
I stream music from Spotify on the iMac next door, loudly so it carries through to the living room and over the crackle of the open fire. Alan Lomax stuff, old Americana and folk tunes. I catch up with old friends on the iPad, by email, Facebook and and a Twitter, happy to be connected to two old friends in particular, one in New Zealand and another heading for India.
I can handle solitude. I was slightly obsessed about Thoreau’s Walden and this move has proved interesting in many similar respects, despite the stigma associated with loners and hermits it doesn’t phase me in the slightest to go a day or few without socialising. After 15 years of non-stop big city hedonism, part and parcel of working in the music industry and licensed trade, this peace and quiet feels like a relief. But I’d struggle without an Internet connection. Thankfully, the world doesn’t feel too far away despite the remoteness. I can live without the usual male banter about football, birds and techno but lack of female company is rapidly becoming a drag…
The bedroom is lit by candlelight, warmed further by 13.5 duck down togs and a Harris Tweed blanket. There’s a book pile beside the bed and I dip in and out of a few on charcuterie, guga, sea fishing and a little Steinbeck until drifting off.
As the day draws to a close I can see the flash of the lighthouse nearby through the uncurtained window, intermittently, and I reflect on just how simple a day it was. Nothing of particular note happened, there was no drama or big event, no endeavour to brag about, no great achievement to speak of. Nothing but a profound happiness, a series of humble occurrences that added up to a perfect day.
Perhaps the bar is set low on my satisfaction scale?
But there was no pressure to do or be anything, life unfolded at its own pace and in doing so revealed a great many truths, beautiful things whispered so discretely they are seldom heard, so untuned to them our ears usually are.
It was a good day, I went to sleep glad and grateful to be here, looking forward to whatever tomorrow might bring, aware this might not last but willing to take it while I can.