Now Samhain has come and gone,
the United Kingdom celebrates Guy Fawkes' Night by lighting bonfires in every corner of the island group.
Folk gather around fires on the 5th of November, crack and/or marvel at fireworks, and share sausage rolls among themselves... That famous rhyme is hummed and remembered. I guess it is an opportunity to gather and share a moment in the blackness of late autumn... Yet I wonder if Guy Fawkes' rebellious spirit has evaporated in all that smoke...
My bonfire took place in a sensational sky earlier on today. Galactic one that refracted on the North Atlantic in amazing hues of gold and pastel pink... Unforgettable moment, as I walked the bay of West Voe with Dave and Paul, two keen birding souls in search of a November visitor, a Grey Phalarope. The great white sandy beach was littered with sugar kelp - feast for starlings and other birds, such as sanderlings, red shanks and other waders - and rollers crashed gently in turquoise colour. Idyllic scene. We walked the length of the white sand to find our curious visitor, as tame as its counterpart, the Red-Necked Phalarope, that breeds on the Island of Fetlar every summer. Joy was as pink as our evening Nordic sky. What a treat to end a magic Saturday!
The day had begun in a morning of Shetland blue, as I joined in a time warp walk back into the past - very distant past, Bronze and Iron Ages - at the Clickimin Broch with a group of [other] friends. Time stood still around old stones. We congregated by the ancient causeway and made our way around the ancient sites of settlement. Two footprints tattooed on a stone... A blockhouse guards the old Iron Age structure some Gentlemen of Lerwick remoulded as a strange jigsaw some two centuries ago. Amazing walk. We walked around the King's footprints and connected back with a share heritage, that of Dalriadia ...
The more we wandered around them, the more questions came to our minds. I was told stones talk. They certainly keep amazing secrets, to which we must bow. We meandered in and out of the broch in awe and respect. Its entrance is not aligned to the East, but to the opposite cardinal point. However, the site's alignment to the ancient causeway via the blockhouse remains equally puzzling... When we think "broch", we think tower, like a medieval dungeon. Now the folk who built those complex structures had communities in mind, as opposed to feudal lords, who sought prestige and delusion of grandeur in a castle only they could inhabit. Brochs were erected for a different purpose, even though other round structure with less status were also constructed... Fascinating world!
As the afternoon unfolded, my appetite for the natural world led my heart back to the southern tip of the Island, Dunrossness - the magic of the South Mainland. A hazy sky was just about to explode in honey with such precocious sunset. My primal idea was to salute the swans and other wildfowl at Spiggie Loch - however, the trip was cut short by a trio of long-eared owls roosting in a sycamore just opposite the Spiggie Hotel. As soon as we stopped the motor and grabbed our cameras, Paul drove up the single track road, stopped his engine and watched the owls with us. A quick beep from his mobile signalled the curtailed trip and diversion to West Voe for the Phalarope. Argghhh, I shall marvel properly at the sunset tomorrow, since the forecast remains optimistic... Meanwhile, the southern tip of the island is currently home to thousand of thrushes, including the handsome redwing and fieldfare.
I did not have sausage rolls by the bonfire tonight., but roasted duck & veg in the comfort of my nordic hut. My bonfire belongs to the magic of our world dazzled by a pastel end of day. I leave religion and politics to the artificial world.
All bird photographs courtesy of my other half :-)