What an eventful month you have been this year. Some high drama for us personally and some high profile losses to the world of the UK rich and famous, talented and celebrated. Several friends have faced or are facing losses of those close to them, the weather is at it’s most challenging , the days are darkest, the winds are whistling, the rain is pouring. And yet, and yet…
January the very embodiment of new beginnings, the first month, the fresh page on the calendar, the brand new year. January brings my birthday, a whole new age to try on and see who I am at this stage in my life story. January here on Rum brings Burns Night, my most favourite celebration in my adopted homeland, celebrating the life of a poet, a carouser and merrymaker with fine food, poetry and song. January this year brought many more tears of joy and gladness of the love, support, friendship and caring that friends showed us during our hours of need, January brought thankfulness for the helicopter services, our wonderful National Health Service, the kindness and compassion of strangers. January offered the opportunity to reflect on a health scare, to re-evaluate our lifestyle, to count blessings and discover that actually, we are just where are supposed to be. January has offered us cause to be grateful for living in a world with fellow humans who by their actions, words, songs, lives, creativity and ideas brought a bigger, brighter, livelier, more colourful, more musical, more inspirational world than it might have been without their presence.
I spent the first day of January looking out of a ninth floor window over Glasgow. I spent some of this last day of January in our fruit cage here on the Croft. That fruit cage has been the location of many an epiphany for me. It was where I pondered life in a cage and not being chicken, it is a rather symbolic icon of Croft 3, build as it is of mostly repurposed materials, stocked with a real mish mash of fruit trees and bushes – some were gifts, from friends, from the TV crew, some were expensive considered purchases, some were from the nearly-dead, reduced to clear section in supermarket plant areas. The fruit cage is an investment in our future here, a tribute to our belief that we may one day reap what we sow and that we have faith in the long haul, bigger picture. Today there was snow on Hallival, brief hail, regular rain while I worked in there. Previously I have been in there during midgey times, given myself a headache squinting in bright sunshine or as with today, worked until my fingers went numb with the cold.
The top of the fruit cage is enclosed with netting, to keep out both our own croft birds and the wild birds who may steal the harvest of fruits. Last year, ironically having invested so much time and energy in keeping our chickens and ducks out we spent a few weeks encouraging in there with food so that they could eat up all the bugs and beasties who may infect the trees with parasitic moths and grubs, and to do the task of weeding and scratching up the ground around the trees far more effectively with their beaks and claws than we could with hand shears. Over the last couple of years I have spent hours and hours painstakingly fixing the netting as it gets torn and damaged in the wind, like a fisherman tending his nets. Today, in advance of the coming storms, aware that the ripped loose netting is getting tangled and caught on the new buds on the fruit trees and ripping them off I decided to remove the netting altogether, to roll it up and secure it and fix it back on again in the summer when there is actually berries and fruit that needs protecting. I realised that instead of being a task which once done could be ticked off as complete and moved on from it should be classed as part of the seasonal tasks to do here. Put it on once it is required, remove it once the harvest is spent and tuck it away safely from the winter storms. In the same was that I plant new seeds every spring and clear away again in the autumn I should celebrate the need to put the netting up each year once fruits start to appear and gladly take the netting down once more once the years harvest has been gathered.
I may take it upon myself to have a ponderance time set aside each month in that fruit cage. I think it does me good.