A long time ago a friend and I had a conversation about what we’d be prepared to kill for and what we’d be prepared to die for. I have to say it is a fairly short list for me on both counts. But I have a longer list of things that I am prepared to fight for. And when I fight I do it properly, throwing every single resource I have at it until I come out bloodied, bruised but victorious.
I’ll never forget the dismay I felt during a conversation with Ady about five years ago when he told me we would just have to accept something I felt very passionate about and vehemently disagreed with. We don’t argue often but this was one occasion when our views were polar opposites and I insisted that I would never just shut up and put up and would march and carry banners and shout from rooftops and throw everything I had at protesting and fighting my corner. Now when I suggest I am taking a fight on he knows better and stands in my corner with me cheering and supporting because he knows I am not one for giving up easily.
At the end of our first winter here on Rum we had some very frank family discussions about whether this was the right place for us. Sure it is beautiful and has amazing views, stunning wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Yes it ticks all the boxes for adventurous, pioneering types such as us wanting to stamp our name on our world and make our mark and shape our future. Certainly it allows us autonomy and freedom in our lives to make up our own rules, be masters of our own destiny, channel our energies into the things that really matter without getting sidetracked by meaningless things. Of course it answers our dream to live off grid, outside of the system, be self sufficient, keep lifestock, have land, grow food.
But were the hard bits too hard? Do the challenges of a six month long winter knock you so far back that you merely spend the other half of the year putting yourself back together again only to face the same wall once more? Are we too old, too financially handcuffed, too idealistic to make this really work for us. Have we left it too late in life? Is Rum just a step too far down the path marked ‘crazy’? Are we blindly ignoring all those signs urging us to reconsider? Did our house not selling mean we should think about moving back to it? Is every challenge here a reminder that we could just choose the easier path and settle for something a little less… extreme?
When we talked about it in the spring the answer was a resounding No! All four of us want to stay here, make this work, carry on building our life here. The other three all did a fine job of persuading me that for their own individual reasons they all want to be here more than anywhere else in the world. And given we did see at least a fair chunk of the UK in 2011 and talked lots about whether we would want to settle in various places I think even Davies and Scarlett can speak with some authority about what they want. So back then I promised to fight for this. To throw everything I have at it, pull out all the stops, call on all my resources.
This year has not panned out how I’d have hoped at the start of the year. I wanted to have sold our house and started building one here. I wanted to be moving our stuff out of the static and into something more permanent, more secure, more Rum-proof by now. Instead we are spending time looking at ways to make the static last another winter.
I may have had doubts about now as the weather closes in, the nights draw in, the winds get up, the torches come out and the tourists huddle with worried expressions about the whether the ferry will come to take them away. But I look at my happy family, still secure and confident that this is home, where they belong. I look back at a week during which we have had two sets of friends up to the croft for dinner and been down to the village twice for dinner with friends down there along with cups of tea, crochet afternoons and general hanging out at a further three different friends. I stand at that ferry with those worried tourists and talk to my co-director of the venison company about the steaks we are sending off to other islands, laugh with the castle manager about shared in-jokes, have one fellow islander pull over with a car full of people as Ady and I walk to the pier and offer to take our empty jerry can and another pull over to offer us a lift. As we walked home to the croft picking brambles to turn into jam when we got home and watching the river running high,all the temporary waterfalls that are created down the hillsides when it rains, the way the landscape is changing from green to purple now that the heather, thistle and devils bit scabious is in bloom.
And then I had messages from both the families who visited us last week telling us how they fell in love with Rum, spotted the magic and felt the pull.
This life, our life….it’s worth fighting for.