Thursday, 26 February 2009

Migrating birds

I’m happy to report that my little birds have been leaving the nest as fast as I can assemble bodies, wings, beads and brooch clips. Like my little birds I too am preparing to leave the nest, my lofty eyrie looking out to Ben Lomond and the surrounding hills. My migration however involves the impossible task of taming an unruly flock of immigration forms which like little birds never seem to stay in the same place for too long.

A snowy Ben Lomond taken from my flat

Although my migration is voluntary, unlike the many forcibly moved from their Western Isles lands, I will follow paths many took over the Atlantic to Asheville, North Carolina ~ a place in the Appalachians where fibre arts are very much alive. Along with good friends, family and a small dog I will miss my mountain, Ben Lomond on the East shore of Loch Lomond. A peak which magically summons rain clouds from the Atlantic. Even on days when it envelopes itself in mist and cloud, immersed in its own weather system I feel its pull, its steady heart beat, its roots are my roots.

Carman Hill (Neolithic burial chambers and Iron Age Fort) pic taken from flat

As a kid on surrounding hilltops I would peer squinting through the half light of dusk and imagine the darkening land dotted with ancient fires, surrounded by an ancient people’s sharing stories. Time was wrapped up in layers and I was always looking for my way in to pull aside that vast curtain and crawl in. I still hunt for those keys in the shape of crow, tree or moonlight.


Out on the ocean beneath the forming rain clouds flows the North Atlantic Drift. It has brought me curious treasures washed up on the Clyde shore: coconuts, magically shaped driftwood and odd curiosities.Deep magic, our tie with the land, isn’t lost or forgotten, it’s very much alive. From my eyrie I look out to a town which cuts of the night skies in its excess of light pollution. As individuals we’re sidetracked by advertising, wide screen TV’s, traffic countless sources of noise into the belly of the consumerist beast. Above the artificial light the mountain peaks are tinged with the last light of the day, from the setting sun, shining on the lands of Tir na Nog.

We can bring the deep magic of the land alive through us, what we make with our hands and all that we do. It is a magic that lives within us as we are an integral part of the land. There is no ‘saving the environment’ we are the land saving ourselves.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Workshop day!

I wake panicking! I jump out of bed. The dog has pooped in the hall. The morning mail comes crash landing through the letter box thankfully centimeters from a potentially messy target. The place is a mess. I'm running a workshop in 3 hours. People are arriving! Argghhhh!

What exactly did i do last night? Oh yes, if i hadn't been stuck to the sofa in a battle between repulsion and morbid curiosity causing me to stay rooted for several episodes of Dexter the flat would be sparkling, organised and prepared!

Slowly the morning weaves together as friends arrive ~ each one a breathe of calmness and inspiration and as we talk about current projects and wools, crocheting, beads I begin to feel grounded in myself again.

The day flies in as wool is laid, and rolled, soaped and felted. Fingerless gloves that started life the size of scarves are shrunk with hard graft and arms and shoulders that will ache the next day. Not quite the 15 minute projects we are all addicted to, but a working together in rolling and shrinking as women once did fulling Harris Tweed singing waulking songs. I run around with the mop as we work fueled by coffee, cake and some good old veggie Scotch Broth.

The laughter and the helping hands, stories of children and worries of sick children all intermingle bringing that quality that so much of consummerism, globalisation and quick fix gadgets have taken from us ~ a space to share and create.

And as i collapsed thoroughly exhausted from the day I felt enriched knowing that craft is a catalyst which helps foster purpose and meaning on a personal level yest it's also what's missing in our current culture. The very act of creativity is what's needed to reinstall a sense of self and highlight the connections between us and everything else on this planet which is the key to returning the balance.