I always feel as though Winter Solstice is a bit like Hogmanay. There’s a feeling of closure and anticipation of the nights beginning to get brighter again, time spent thinking about what has been and what’s to come.
I was thinking about when the first lockdown began back in March. I wouldn’t have believed that come December, it would be a time I wished I could go back to. It was so quiet, and the birds were so loud. Even at night when I usually wouldn’t hear them. It was kind of reassuring to listen to them chirping, knowing that the world was carrying on as normal. We spent a lot of time sitting in the sun, gardening and speaking to our neighbours over the fence. It was peaceful, and It often made me wonder if the Earth sounded like that centuries ago. I remember one evening letting the dogs out the back and hearing the waves crashing onto the shore a mile away, me and William couldn’t figure out what it was at first - it was so still. I think this kind of silence will be hard to explain to future generations. For me, it’s a special memory of a time when the natural world got a chance to flourish. It just goes to show, radical things are possible when it comes to the environment.
We enjoyed many more meals at the table together because we weren’t rushed. William played his drums and read a lot more, while I painted constantly. Because we could only go out for 30 minutes a day, we did…and we walked, and spent time outside taking note of things we hadn’t noticed before. In many ways lockdown pointed out what was wrong with the world before March.
Despite the daily alarming news updates, and what we were told about Covid-19 we were held up by ordinary good people. Bin Men, Shop Workers, Postal Workers, Pharmacy Workers, Public Transport Workers, Butchers, Farmers, Fishermen…all took risks to ensure we could have a normal life and food to eat, and did it with a smile on their face. I really appreciated those small normal interactions during this time. If you look at it from that perspective, we can have faith that there is so much good out there despite what news outlets would lead you to believe. More than ever I appreciate the NHS, and the people who work within it. I really hope, that after this people remember them, and they are looked after by the government properly after what has been a traumatic time.
It goes without saying, there have been some overwhelming negatives too. The pandemic has highlighted more that ever, that we are not all in the same boat. The gap between the rich and the poor in the UK is inexcusable. The cronyism in Westminster has cost thousands of lives and decisions in Scotland have not been perfect either. On a personal level, what I witnessed during the summer in the highlands and Islands in relation to tourism, infrastructure and the buying out of land, has made me more determined than ever to become more actively involved in the debate regarding land ownership and management. Everything can change though; 2021 is an opportunity to do that.
I admit my heart sank a bit when I saw the announcement for another looming lockdown, but If I have learnt anything from the last one, It’s to actively appreciate the time I have at home, and to enjoy the world outside. We are so privileged in this country to perceive being asked to stay at home as some kind of burden when there are millions of displaced and impoverished people all over the world, including in Scotland.
On that note 2020 has been a year In which I have felt more grateful than ever for what I have and who I have in my life. Thank you for all the support and encouragement this year. Wishing you a peaceful December, and a healthy and happy new year,
Photo: St Columba's Church, Aignish, Isle of Lewis taken during my only trip home to see family this year after the first restrictions lifted.