Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Archipelago: Day 6

My second night here, I crossed Cove Park's watershed and looked down upon Helensburgh and Faslane port, with its booms and docks and alarmingly extensive accommodations. It wasn't just the sight of the nuclear missile base that made me feel odd; something has been coming clear in my head about Shetland, being here. I realise I relish the fact that I can position myself at the top of Sannick Hill, at Houlland or Dunscanclate, and see most of it in one go (at least the south mainland), clear down to the cliffs and red radio light of Fitful Head. If people were inclined to call this awareness of your boundaries 'limiting', Shetland compensates with extraordinary richness on the macro level: the tiny exotic plants of bog and heath, the sundew and butterwort, milkwort, orchids and squill, tormentil, heather, bog asphodel, scabious, bog-cotton...let alone the shore.

Perhaps there's a corresponding perturbation about the lack of boundaries in my attempt to write this novel. I can't hold the story in my head: its endless narrative linearity; unforeseeable consequences; it's as my imagination isn't strong enough to clear the watershed. Which might sound negative, but I'm feeling very freed by the possibilities of it. I went back to that view last night, climbing the forestry track, picking up pine cones, putting them down, walking fast, resolving to let that narrative find its own form. Perhaps that form will be more archipelagic in some way...

Little holiday yesterday: I walked to Kilcreggan for grocery shop, chocolate ice-cream and a coffee. Sunburn, and a monumental blister on my right heel from walking 4 miles or so in wellies...

2 comments:

Doug Robertson said...

Hope you enjoy your stay in this beautiful part of Argyll. A very inspiring area. Hope to get the chance to catch up again soon.

Doug

Jen Hadfield said...

that would be good Doug!