For All Time
Our new garden field (once a much-loved garden but sadly fallen into disuse) slopes off into ‘infinity’ – ending as it does, abruptly, at the edge of a bracken-strewn rock-face dropping around forty metres to the foreshore below..and giving an almost uninterrupted view out to sea on the western side of the island. Remarking that this reminded me of images of infinity pools in luxury travel magazines led, in my recent absence, to a purge of all foliage deemed to obstruct said view..and, in turn, to a new view of the remaining garden’s future development.
From this headland we can see much of the Inner Hebrides..within view is a string of islands called the Garvellachs – looking like a skimming-stone frozen in slow-motion on the surface of the water. Here – a thousand years ago – monks lived in ‘clustered, mortarless huts shaped like beehives’ as part of a (literal) movement by travellers known as the ‘peregrini’. This Celtic Christian culture of retreat inspired travellers to the north-west coasts of Britain and Ireland to find remote, unsettled lands..in their pursuit of achieving harmony between man and nature, belief and place. “There, with the ocean extending away from them, and nothing to abbreviate or delay the eye, the monks were free to consider infinitude”. H’mmm…I’ll bet they didn’t achieve that with the aid of a chainsaw.
“A long Christian tradition exists”, I read, “that considers all individuals as peregrini,in
that all human life is seen as an exile”. Our own decision to move to this lovely wild place has in some quarters been seen as an exile. Some have wondered aloud if we will “last out the winter” here. How funny that with no knowledge of our past, they predict our future.
I won’t be rash enough to gamble on the outcome. I only know that I’ve made one such fast decision to re-locate before this; based simply on instinct, and passion – that resulted in a fifteen year long love-affair with a landscape. Hence my lack of concern.
I’ll surrender myself to the island – as the waves shape the pebbles of the beaches..and the lichen, the rocks. Let tide and time do its best.
This is a move to infinity: endless, forever and ever.
For All Time
Extracts re: ‘peregrini’ taken from Robert MacFarlane’s “The Wild Places”