Friday, 22 March 2013
Wintering in Shetland
Wintering in Shetland is becoming a habit. It is an exciting place to be at this time of year because Shetland folk spend a lot of time partying, dressing up as Vikings and setting light to things. It’s as though life is on speed. The skies and weather change so fast sometimes there are four seasons in a morning and the astonishing rate at which the days start to lengthen in February give hope to someone like me who finds dark mornings deadly. People who have never been to Shetland imagine it to be a cold place because it is on latitude 60. But, the Gulf Stream laps around the islands and during most of January and February it was a few degrees warmer than the south of England.
It is an unforgiving, but very beautiful place at any time of the year. But, on the surprisingly many still and sunny winter days, there are breathtaking reflections of skies and sunsets on the voe. There is also a glassy sea to peer into where there is a world one is not normally privileged to see without a snorkel. Seals barely stir the water when they poke their heads up to check you out. Being curious they track your progress along the shore and if you stand still they will pop up and down getting ever closer until they decide you are not that interesting after all. Then the faint ripple of their movement on the surface of the water tells you they have gone.
Shetland always inspires me to work and I usually make some things for the house. This time it was some more table mats out of beach rope, a chest from driftwood to store bedding (a joint project with the ‘woodwork god’) and another laundry basket from a buoy. The house is let to visitors in the summer and I always hope they will enjoy using these hand made items as much as we enjoy making them.
I also resolved a piece that I had previously exhibited but was unhappy with. In fact, it had been folded in half and put in the dustbin, I didn’t have the heart to unpick my painstaking work. As I turned away from the dustbin I saw a rusty metal ring close by that I had rescued from the beach and knew straight away that I had the solution. This phenomenon happens quite often to me and is a bit like the tennis player who is tense and making lots of errors and consequently losing badly. The player then apparently gives up and ceases worrying about trying to win. Suddenly with the brain allowed to stop fretting it all comes together.