Wednesday, 2 January 2013

These are the Dark Days

November and December are dark months, as we drag ourselves through identical damp, gloomy days towards the winter solstice.  It will still be weeks before the first signs of spring return, before the days are noticeably longer and it becomes possible to do more interesting things than the endless boring cycle of work, eat, sleep...

It’s been good to have some time off over the festivities and be outdoors in daylight.  I started the new year by climbing to the top of Hallival, one of our iconic peaks.  I’ve been up that hill a few times with various friends but never alone; I love high places and wide open spaces, and the weather was not bad (for Rum in January).  I ascended into thick fog and hail, but the hail passed and I felt optimistic that the fog would clear by the time I got to the top.  It did!  I can’t help extrapolating from the specific to the general, and it gave me a strong sense of hope for this year.  We might feel as though we’re moving through fog and the way is unclear, but at a certain point we find ourselves at the summit with the whole island spread out before us and a view of snow-topped mountains on the mainland.

Work-wise most of my time has been spent finely crafting my application to Big Lottery’s Growing Community Assets fund for our bunkhouse project.  Finding the right words to express just how vitally important the bunkhouse is going to be for our wee economy, but also for our confidence as a community, has been challenging.  That this project would finally produce tangible evidence of progress, that all the tears and gnashing of teeth were worth it.  Finding the detailed information the Capital Grants Checklist calls for has been even more challenging – I can add knowledge of the technicalities of capital building projects to my growing list of talents.  Now I’m just waiting for planning permission to be granted while I check and re-check my figures.  What if we don’t get the grant?  What if we get it, but I’ve missed out something vital and the grant turns out to be not enough?  How are we going to manage our cashflow when we’re making payments to contractors of tens of thousands of pounds and our reserves just don’t stretch that far?  Why do I feel like I’m the only one worrying about this stuff? 

I have 12 months left on my contract here.  I don’t know if it will be extended, or if I’ll want to stay on if it is.  Sometimes living here is so hard that I’d gladly pack up my stuff and board the ferry without looking back.  Other times, like when I’m standing on top of a hill in a sprinkling of snow, looking down on our tiny village, I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.

Wendell Berry


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