And just like that we've moved.
It was time to change, to migrate, to explore a new county. The impulse came upon us slowly, but grew power over time. I missed my family, felt cut off and abandoned on the islands through lockdown. The sea became a barrier rather than a kist of riches. The pull of home was overpowering. And so we moved.
Mainland based, now, we live a changed life. Our views are of mountains, snow and trees. The river behind the house changes daily, carrying rainwater, meltwater and ice down to the sea loch. Dippers seek food in the cold, rich water. The sea freezes over in the morning, while the clouds and snowy mountains turn pink in the rising sun. One quiet morning, three roe deer run through the birch wood, white tails flashing a warning visible to all.
But still our lives are the same. We spend time in nature. Seeking each other's company. Wandering slowly, reading the story of the land.
For the land in still in the throes of winter. Ice comes and goes, the rain falls heavily, but there is quiet life returning. The leaves on the honeysuckle are jewel-like and vital. The buds are growing thick, the inner coil of the fern seems brighter, and the robin perches on top of the holly tree and sings, and sings, and sings. The ground still appears dormant, but there are quiet signals of it being in use. A fox, treading lightly in the night, leads the way along a snowy path. A pine marten leaves a curl of scat at the fencepost. Unseen but for these hints, our breaths stop in our throat: what a wonderful place it is to be.
There's much to discover. The turquoise waters of the sea lochs call to me - no longer a barrier, but once again a gateway into another world. The lush mosses growing around and over the birch roots beg to be lain back on. My feet ache for adventure, and I long to have the tent within reach. It's still cold. Properly, finger-tingling cold. Rosy-cheeked, many-layered days are filled with new things to admire. Easing my way along narrow roe deer paths, I am struck again by the wonder of life. I tread softly, trying not to wake the earth.