In the first two days of Marie’s challenge on Journeying beyond Breast Cancer, I have been struck by the enormity and complexity of celebrating the ordinary. Already, I have had insights both visual and descriptive, into the lives of friends on the blogosphere. The images are striking and the words underneath them tell so much.
I know that I am fortunate in having no shortage of material (well, perhaps that is the understatement of a few millennia) and I am surrounded by amazing sights, and experience so many “oh gosh” heart stopping moments in an ordinary day, living in a place very different to my original and home culture.
So today, I want to do something a little different. I am perhaps cheating a little in that this is not one of the images I have taken today (oh yes, of course I have already taken quite a few) but a picture from my “archive”. And of course there is a story behind this.
For going on 20 years, I have regularly spent time on the tiny Scottish island of Lismore. The island has a population of around 150. Yes, 150. 150 people, not homes. The island itself is around 10 miles long (perhaps 16 kilometres) and at its widest point, around 2 miles wide. Which is just over 3 kilometres. A tiny island with a tiny population.
Every year, when I visit the UK, I always try and spend as much time as possible on the island, and was able to spend longer than usual there after the nine months of cancer treatment. Spending time there is not as easy as it sounds given the fact that my family are spread around the UK and getting to Lismore (on public transportation) is complex. It involves trying to coordinate bus times, train times and ferry times and usually means a dawn start to get to the island the same day. However, once on the island, time slows down and the important things take over. Precious time with family, long walks exploring the island, and my usual jaunt to the minute tidal island of Bernara just at the western edge of Lismore. If Lismore is tiny, I am not sure how to describe Bernera.
To get to Bernera, it is vital to check the tide tables, as the island is only accessible at low tide when the causeway appears. I have spent hours there, watching the tide go down and the path miraculously appear, watching the tide come up slowly and the island become distinct from the bigger island, and especially watching the inhabitants of the island. And I am sure there must be a lot more than 150 of them, a clan of hardy, common grey seals, hanging out, fishing, swimming and lounging on the stony shores of Bernera. It is fortunate that the Scottish summer evenings are so long, as it gives so much extra time to wander, watch and wonder.
In addition to the seal population, there is a sizeable sheep population which must far exceed the number of human inhabitants of the whole island. It often feels as if they are the ones in charge. I do not know how many times I have looked back, or up, to see a number of eyes fixed on me. And that is the image which I want to share today.
But times are changing, my future visits to the island unsure and my long breaks there unlikely in the same way. I will have to rely on memories and the many photographs, and of course there are some pictures of visits to the island as well as a few from the island itself.
Celebrate the ordinary today, because tomorrow may be different.