Tuesday, 14 June 2016

So long and thanks for all the shhhh.....

A nourishing, thought and emotion provoking week, where many stories were told and ancestral traumas were revealed.

Community member Alison Swinfen came with a group of activists and academics, working hard on the frontlines, supporting the asylum seeking community; and together we explored the themes of rest and rejuvenation.

We were visited by Jan Sutch-Pickard who told local tales around the fire at the top of the garden; kindled in the old way by Josh and Alison from plants gathered throughout the day's fruitful wanderings.

Stories were told of displaced peoples of past & present, Gal & Gael, stories of freedom of expression and worship; on the liminal borderless intertidal zones.

Argyll folklorist, Bob Pegg also came to Criech Hall that week and played the clasach, a bone pipe and many other ancient instruments.  During the course of the evening I learned that there is a certain pink fish, in decline of late; that traditionally is not spoken of among the Gael here.  As a resident of Camas, itself with a biography of fishing this particular species, whilst being part of a community dedicated to honouring the 'Integrity of Creation'; it prompted me to think deeply on what true community engagement can look like here on the Ross. 

How do we have a meaningful conversation on what factory shhhh-farms are doing to local and migrating populations when it is frowned upon to mention the name?  When it comes to the integral nature of biotopes, sometimes the elephant in the room is conspicuous by her absence.

Midweek, we saw a group changeover and a large group of Phd students from Glasgow came to experience Camas and, amongst other things;  how to communicate their specialisms with a wider audience.  On the last night, the rafters groaned with the sound of thundering feet as the pipes played out across the bay at an impromptu ceilidh.  There is life at Camas Tuath!

Not content with having two weeks in one, we bade goodbye to the Glasgow students and said hello to the Camas Committee and Iona community leader Peter McDonald who stayed for a weekends meetings.  Lastly, the weekend's end was punctuated with poignancy as we bade goodbye to Irena Arambasic, leaving for Croatian climbs after five months as coordinator. Farewell Irena; with love!
It was on leaving the island of Mull, and having an opportunity to reflect on the intensity of the week; that this poem bobbed to the surface on the journey from Craignure to Oban:

They gave men fish but they did not spare the rod.
Lest we forget,
The people  at Camas Tuath who built a wall for alms,
A border to keep them from their own fertile land that yielded; crops,
This ‘Galloway’ wall!

Daily we knead our bread,
Weekly, we rekindle the neid fire,
Monthly, feeling our way through the nets,
we renew our commitment to the land,
we know the land needs us!

Just; we connect.
The people at Camas Tuath will deconstruct this wall,
These grandfather and grandmother stones,
once and maybe again; Shielings.
Build shelter from sheep to grow the sprouting hazelnut.
A forest of burning bushes to feed our prayers for a return of the salmon.
And a turning away, at last;
 of the sheep-dipped tide.”

It was a week where shit, both figuratively and literally; came to the surface.  In the realm of peacemaking and reconciliation; sometimes humour is the best medicine.... :)

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Oh How The Garden Grows

Oh how the garden grows…

Walking down the track into a dream, the bog cotton waving at me; I stand atop the hill, looking out across the still and silent sea. The bracken is big now, unfurling with all its might – a luminous green that only comes with spring. The leaves of the Aspen are in full power, the bed of self-seeded delights have turned into a jungle of greens to eat, the grapes in their infancy fascinate me and how tall the sweetcorn grows! The Asparagus too, I could watch it stretch, the potatoes, raspberries, salad crops, apple blossom and rhubarb. The kale and the chard, turnips and beets, the strawberries are ready to eat! Fresh herbs from the herb canoe and a sea of sunflowers – I could sit for hours and watch the garden grow, the birds bouncing from branch to branch, the Adders curl in the sun, the tidal ebb and flow and the chickens mischievous charm. The bees come for the borage, as do I. Infinite pickings of nettles and ‘weeds’ from the sea and ground, sorrel is my favourite zesty treat to find on forage.  A gift freely given, food for foods sake. Beauty for beauties sake. I could sit for hours and watch the garden grow. Watch how the light moves across the rocks at the round house, how the rowan leaves turn with the moving sun, how the infant trees made quickly small by the increasingly tall bracken, one day it will be reverse. The willow dome is complete now, a secret to retreat to and look out from within the leaves. The baby apple trees are flowering too and that pine we cut has its use. We sit on the logs around the fire, telling stories united by our mandala. I could sit for hours…