We’re having quite a week here in north west Skye. The wind’s blowing around the house and leaves are whirling down but there’s still colour to be found; a few little flame-coloured scraps left on the bare branches here and there and hips and berries not yet taken by the birds.
I know I’ve mentioned my general lack of artistic motivation over these past months. The creative blahs. They’ve been causing me some worry as I know that this happens from time to time, but not usually for anywhere near as long. And being friendly with other creatives, I’ve fallen victim to that awful comparison thing. I see them streaking ahead (to my mind anyway) and getting on with things, accomplishing, whilst here I am stumbling about wondering why I just don’t feel in any way inspired.
But on Monday there was a little spark when I woke up. I wanted to draw, to go out and look at things and come home and draw. Specifically, I wanted to study the forms of trees. Unfortunately that was the only spark, as just after 9am we had a power cut. Nothing too newsworthy in that - they happen up here - so I dropped Joe off as usual and rubbed my hands together in anticipation of finally getting some stuff down in my sketchbook.
Within an hour (during which I’d hurriedly cleared the chores) of getting back to the house there was a knock on the door. The school was closing and the children were being sent home. I packed away my pencils.
The power cut lasted until well after we’d gone to bed that night. Over twelve hours of no heating, telephone (mobile or landline), hot water, lights. Apparently there were welfare vans giving out hot meals but by that time we were in the outbuilding, wrapped up in woollens and utilising an old camping gas stove we’d found buried in the shed to warm up leftovers from the night before. The paraffin lamp came into its own again, and thankfully we had two torches and a lot of candles.
Joe and I took a torch - it was really very dark, and nobody likes a cattle grid injury - and visited some friends across the road. He played with the girls (they all go to school together) whilst we grown ups had a chat by the fire. The electricity flickered back to life for just long enough to boil the kettle then died again. So we managed a cup of tea. Back at home later on, the remainder of the evening was spent playing board games by candlelight then retiring to bed wearing thick socks.
Fortunately everything seemed fine the next morning. A landslip had knocked out power lines and much of our part of Skye, including the capital, had been affected. But the power was back on and the sun was shining. So I took a little walk through the dripping woods and did a few sketches and brought home some bits of fir and pine cones on twigs to make some studies.
I actually did some drawing and enjoyed it. Now the momentum must be maintained…
Of course, this is a time of year when there’s lots of making going on. Christmas cards (I have a few ideas) and wreaths and so on. The festive feeling is taking hold. We may well start early this year. Joe’s already been to the cinema with school this past week and he’s now playing the tin whistle with the music club. It’s torturous but I’m hoping (praying) he’ll improve. At the Parent Council meeting last week it was nice to hear Christmas carols being practised down the corridor as we talked fundraising and polytunnels.
We tried a new walk on Sunday. It’s somewhere just on the outskirts of the village; you often see tourists parked there to get photographs of the resident Highland cows (who are actually quite friendly and not averse to being Instagrammed). There’s a track which leads off past a fir plantation and the views take in Macleod’s Tables and the sea over towards Harlosh. We drive past there a lot, and decided to go and see where the track took us. So we did.
It was a chilly, gloomy morning but dry. I took gloves anyway and was glad of it. And the walk was a good one; the grasses are still glowing orange and coral and ruby and there were lots of tiny rogue Christmas tree saplings along the way, some just a few inches high. So I picked a couple and once we were back I planted them in clay pots. Hopefully they’ll take and we’ll have our own baby trees.
I do, however, have allergies. And although I insist on having a real tree each year it always ends up making me feel ill. So this time we’ve ordered a very expensive imitation European fir which should arrive soon. I’m hoping it lasts for many years, and that the cat isn’t remotely interested in it.
So here we are. School activities and social events are being added to the calendar on an almost daily basis. We’ve brought the decorations indoors and deposited them in a spare room (but couldn’t resist a quick look through them first). The days are getting very short. We stay cosy. I’ve started watching The Crown - late to the party as usual - and am reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. There’s a writing project on the go which is exciting and inspiring too. The Brown Betty teapot is getting heavier with Christmas savings, ready for treats. I’m looking forward to December, but before that there are lots of festive markets on the island and we’ll be visiting some of those.
I’m also counting my blessings. We had one day without power and it was tough, but Jay’s a resourceful type and we coped with it. The weather is cold and windy and the skies are dark but at least we have a home we can retreat to and feel warm and safe. Yes it needs work but that’s for the future. Right now we’re incredibly fortunate and I try not to forget that.