Monday, March 28, 2011

Week Four - Moniack Mhor

Yesterday from 8:30 to 9:30 pm was the WWF's Earth Hour. So I lit the cottage's emergency candles, stoked the stove and turned off the lights. I had planned to spend the hour peacefully reading. Have you ever tried to read by 4 candles and a plateful of tealights? With the eyes of youth, maybe, but I'd spent the day at the computer, pushing through a second draft I'd promised myself I'd have finished by the day before. Old eyes, over-used, on strike. So no reading. So I decided I would write a poem. After all, there I was, sitting right in the middle of a metaphor. And I could write BIG so I could see what I was doing. Use the time, Joan! But I didn't do that either.

Instead I watched the candles. Then I watched the fire. Then I watched the light from the fire flicker on the ceiling. Then I watched the red tulips with their green leaves in the white jug, in the candle-light.

That's what I did for Earth Hour.

It was really, really nice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Three - Moniack Mhor

The hill is alive with ... the Highland Literary Salon Writing Retreat. Seventeen keen writers, woolied and wellied, have arrived, and the place is bulging with words, with Alan Bissett as their intrepid leader.

Saturday evening we sat about the fire in the main house and people read some of the things they'd been writing. It was wonderful - all the different voices and styles, all the tantalising snippets of story - and when I went back through the wind to the cottage (many hours before many of them!) I saw the moon. It was amazingly bright, being at its closest point to Earth that night, so I wrote a poem for the weekend, called ...

Don’t Disappoint the Moon

On the night of Saturday 19 March the full moon was at its closest point to Earth. Observers noticed that it shone over Moniack Mhor with a particular intensity.

Astonished, it hangs,
the white, bright face inn the sky,
city-sized eyes agog.
Lunar ears, hard
to distinguish from any other crater,
are wide for words.
The old man's mouth drops open,
a trickle of moon dust
unnoticed at the edge.
But time is implacable.
The face sails on,
looking, longingly,
over a shoulder it does not possess,
whispering across the blank of space
"But wait - no - you can't stop there -

Week Three A - Moniack Mhor

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week Two - Take Two - Moniack Mhor

Well, the power went off at 3:00 this morning. I know this because a polite but insistent alarm kept telling me so. Eventually I found a way to silence it, but really, what did it think I was going to DO? I don't NEED electricity to sleep. I thought, "This is news that can keep."

And it did. By 7:00 there was still no power. I trudged up to the main building to see if there was any power up there. Nope. But I did discover that the snow was now up to my knees. I trudged back again. Looking out now, a few hours later, my knee-high footprints are almost completely filled in.

Then, for no apparent reason, the power came on again. I was happy to see it. I'm quite sure it won't decide to go away again, in any random fashion whatsoever. Absolutely sure. Now where do they keep the candles ...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Week Two - Moniack Mhor

I got back from the extremely excellent Aye Write festival in Glasgow just in time to be snowed in here - since Tuesday night it's snowed and blown away and snowed again and started to melt and snowed again. There's been sun and fog and clouds of many colours and the most brutal winds. I now know that sheep face away from a blizzard and end up with snow-capped backsides. I also now know that the astonishingly beautiful red kite is astonishingly difficult to photograph - and that it eats snow. I watched it swoop down, grab a clawful and eat/drink it on the wing. It must have known I was watching, though, so it may just have been showing off.

In the midst of all this weather-, sheep-, and birdwatching I have also been writing up a storm (ooo, see what I did there), including while asleep. I have been having the most vivid dreams, all narrated by me, and have several times said to myself, while doing so, "oh that's a good phrase, you better remember that" ...

Cabin-crazy? Me? Not a bit of it.

Cheers, Joan.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Week One - Moniack Mhor

My cottage

My neighbours

My view

The darling buds of March

I'm really here. And now I so don't want to leave!

Everyone has been so welcoming - even the demented resident crow, Rupert, has flung himself repeatedly at my windows in what I can only hope is enthusiastic greeting. And the centre car - The Beast - is no longer an unknown terror. After having my bottom boiled (thank goodness I've found the off button for the seat warmer at last!) AND having to back 1/2 a mile up a steep single track road with ditches on either side because the guy with the trailer missed the passing place, I made it to my first school in Dingwall without killing anyone and had a great time. So The Beast is now, I guess, more of a known terror, but those are the better kind.

I am well stuck in to writing Samuel Palmer's Moon, and still setting myself unrealistic daily goals. Week 2 includes going off to the Aye Write book festival in Glasgow Monday and Tuesday, and visiting 2 schools in Inverness on Wednesday, then time again to write my tiny socks off.

And now, back to it!

Cheers, Joan.