Winter

Gale after gale seems to be testing the resilience and strength of both islanders and island to the limits.

Night after night I lie in bed listening to the windows clatter and bang and the roof stretch and creak, wondering if the tunnels are still up, the bees are still there or the old apple tree is still standing.

Each winter there comes a point when I wish it to be over, for the constant howl of wind and lash of rain to cease. Now is that point. I long to be out working in the fields, planting and picking fruit and veg whilst the warmth of early morning sunshine softens the skin.

I long to escape the frustrating confines of the quay and swim further and longer, but right now that’s the safest place to be.

These are my first thoughts of the day, as I lie in the dark and cosy cocoon of my bed.

Then I remember a quote from author Ali Smith, talking about her book Winter, and it gives me a kick up the you know what.

“In the dark is where we work out what the light is, and in the winter is where we work out why we want spring and in the lack of hope is where we make hope.”

I have always loved the weather, it’s raw and powerful beauty, it’s variety. I love the way it can effect your body and mind. Living here on Bryher you need to be able to love the weather, we can have such extremes, such wildness, and you have to accept for good or bad that really it’s mother nature that dictates our lives.

So I leave my bed and head out for a swim. In his book Cool Swimming Jonathan PD Buckley writes,

” Cold water swimming is a particularly vigorous meditation on the elements of each new day. Preparing to enter the water, the mind focuses on the here and now. Yesterday’s cares and the trials to come dissolve in the play of light on water and the shock of entering it.”

When I’m old and sitting dead in body and skull I will have no choice, I will not be able to be outside in the weather, be connected to the wild nature around us and to swim, so out I go and embrace winter.

Big tides at Quay

Once again I swim at Quay where even here the sea was wild and swirling and the tide, yet still two hours from high tide is huge.

Alongside the track the sea rolls the granite rocks as if they are merely marbles in its palm, they grind and knock together.

The swell around the steps is so big I decide it’s safer just to jump from the quay and I’m soon submerged into a grey fog-like water full of chopped weed and sand.

not far to jump today

Of course it feels lovely to be in the water and I am proud of myself for getting in, another day in February ticked off. Spring will be here soon enough, thank goodness, and I will love it even more for having swum through winter.

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