Paper wolves and snowfall

Paper wolves and snowfall

It's been another week of changeable weather. Yesterday we had more snow. Today it's windy and rainy and, at the risk of sounding like a bit of a killjoy, the snow's being washed away which makes me happy. It's nice at the weekend but not when you have to get a small person to school and home again.

But last week we had a glorious day. I drove into town to run a few errands and then took a walk along the water's edge. I looked across to the harbour with its ice cream-coloured buildings and little boats sitting on the still sea. The sun was shining and it was actually warm. Gorse and catkins, buds and shoots. 

The ozone, salty air, the sound of the waves lapping. The day before had been stressful with one thing and another but walking along the path, exploring this new place, I felt the tension melting away. The bracken and the grass, warmed by the sun, released an earthy fragrance. The sky was blue and clear. Nobody else was around - just a few brazen robins and blackbirds.

The path took me through a thinly wooded area and past a viewpoint with benches and a monument, then everything seemed to suddenly open out. Rocky outcrops, the vast expanse of the sea, mountains. Seabirds wheeling high above and seagulls squabbling amongst themselves. I walked on and on, curious to see what was around each bend. I didn't want to stop exploring.

But finally I turned back - Joe would need collecting from school.

As I reached town feeling as though spring was tentatively peeping through the curtain, I felt a sense of positivity and lightness, wellbeing. A celebratory bunch of mauve tulips were purchased (along with a couple of leeks, not quite so romantic but necessary for soup).

Of course, I returned at the weekend with Joe and Jay. The former took lots of photographs. I daren't start putting them onto the computer yet as I suspect it will be a mammoth operation. The memory card on his camera must be almost full by now.

Sunday was beautiful too. Sunshine and frost - a late breakfast, a picnic and blanket packed, layers of clothing. We decided to head out somewhere not too far from home but perhaps another as yet undiscovered place. So we went to Fiskavaig Bay. 

There were rockpools covered in ice, so their contents - jewel-like shells, bright seaweed - looked as though they were preserved under glass. The beach was empty and quiet. The wind, so often omnipresent here on Skye, had clearly decided to take a day off. We lay down the blanket and went paddling.

We found so many shells and bits of pottery, pebbles and even a sea urchin. Joe was in his element. Yet these little finds, rainbow-hued and glittering, always become dull and lifeless once they've been brought home. They get a wash and a dry, and some I'm keeping aside for a future project. Others find their way into Joe's fish tank where they're suddenly reanimated. They regain their colours and they glitter and gleam once again.

I went for a walk with him up to the water's edge and we splashed about in the shallows. Jay had some peace and quiet and sat soaking up the winter sun. Then we made our way back for sandwiches. I drank my tea and looked at the tiny shells on the ground - so many of them, perfectly-formed and each one a little bit different from the last.

I also did my duty as a good islander and filled our empty carrier bag with rubbish from the beach. Plastic, of course: a child's flip-flop, water bottles, shell casings. It's depressing to think that no matter how quiet or remote or beautiful a beach is, there will always be a peripheral ring of discarded junk which won't disappear into the ground or the water. But I took away a tiny bit of it.

After the beach we went to find Portnalong lighthouse. We can see it flashing across the bay at night, somewhere in the distance. So off we went, stumbling along through the tussocks and boggy ground high on the cliffs. The sun was lower in the sky by now and the light was becoming hazy. A breeze had picked up too, sending ripples through the long yellow grass.

After quite some time of seemingly going around in circles we found the lighthouse. The landscape and the whole atmosphere - 'Golden Hour', wandering along the hills above the sea - had me living out my childish Anne of Green Gables fantasies. So I was expecting a tall, prettily-striped structure of Victorian origin. It wasn't. 

Portnalong lighthouse looks like it's made out of Lego. It's small and square and ugly. So I think I'd prefer it at night, twinkling across the water.

So. A Sunday well spent. 

And then, yesterday, the snow returned. We braved it to the next village and bought a big sack of coal. But the car refused to climb the slippery hill back to the house. Jay decanted some coal into a carrier bag and we abandoned the car and trudged homewards. 

Fortunately when we went back out for Joe, the snow had melted a bit. But later on there was a tempest.

It all started over the silliest thing (it's never something of any real consequence). I was showing Joe how to do ticks with a felt tip pen and he took exception to my method. It quickly escalated into a full-blown rage (him) and an order for him to go upstairs (me). WITHOUT slamming the door.

A lovely, peaceful twenty minutes followed before the doorknob was turned gingerly. I waited for the apology but instead a 'paper wolf', carefully Pritt-Sticked together, entered the room. It's purpose was to 'scare me' for having doled out a telling-off and I'll be honest: I laughed. I did get an apology as well but I'm not sure how sincerely it was meant...

My plans for today have been shelved. The snowdrop walk is taking place next Wednesday too and I'm hoping the weather isn't as wild then. A planned post office trip can wait. At the moment it's all about dashing out to the car and back for school. The rain's heavy and horizontal, the wind's howling and I'm laying low. 

The good thing about changeable weather: tomorrow it could be bright and spring-like again. Maybe not. But I like to err on the side of optimism in these cases.