They’re not perfect—not uniform – not standard –not like you’d buy in the shop imported fresh out of season from Israel or hand picked by an eastern European who still knows the meaning of work in the field. No these are Outer Hebridean strawberries picked fresh from my own garden; admittedly from under a makeshift plastic cover sheltered from the chill of the easterly and taking full advantage of the very long summer days. Sunrise is at 5.00 and sunset around 10.00 giving the potential for 17 hours of vitamin D intake but the night sky is never truly dark as the sun rolls just below the horizon.
By seven in the morning the first bus of the day has passed and Donald comes by taking his two collies for a walk. At ten in the evening Roddy is still out with the hosepipe spraying the windows to clean off the sea salt spray and while he’s at it perhaps remove some real or imagined spider’s webs from under the eaves. The back breaking days of cutting peat are over, the setting up to dry is done and we must now wait till late July for tractor and trailer to bring them in. Recently my creative energies have been diverted from paint to wool and the complexities of stump work, French knots and long-stitch as I try to rest my aching back.
In the garden after a relatively mild winter shrubs are putting on somewhat delayed but extra ordinary growth.
This year there was no April heat wave to entice early growth and no bitter easterly to follow and burn off those first tender shoots, the growth has been fruitful, sturdy and out at the limit of my plot it keeps pace with the grass which one day I hope it will surpass and stifle, maybe even become small trees that will screen the neighbouring red roofed garage and bungalow. Out on the moor 14 wind turbines are to be built in 2020 once the mainland power connection is in place so I’m also hoping by then that the growth will be sufficient to reduce the impact on the westerly horizon. While I try to understand the insatiable craving for more energy to power our increasingly irrational lives I worry what the substantial sum of money generated by these turbines will do to this remote community. There is a school to keep open and even improve and the village Post Office shop that could incorporate a much needed café and meeting place, so many positive things that money could bring but also in my mind so many negative pitfalls of jealousy and blame. For now though I am content to start each day with a few imperfect Hebridean home grown strawberries on my muesli, put up the gallery open sign and return to a comfortable chair with my needlework picture and a large bag of wool.