Leaving Ceanna Beinne mid-afternoon, I had the intention of visiting Rispond, the large house and quay where once lived the Tacksman who cleared the village. There was a swirl of thoughts and feelings in me as I drove towards it — curiosity to compare the grandeur and ease of this place with the tiny overshadowed crofts; a sense of needing to complete a circle by putting my body in the place that homed the man who, in this story, seems to be the villain, and by doing so, soften into some kind of compassion perhaps ?
As I turned the corner in the road towards Loch Eriboll, some larger white sands opened out before me. I realised these were connected with the small cove I’d reached by following the burn from its source to sea yesterday. I pulled in and lingered because the light on the water was beguiling. As the dusk came, the pink rocks began to mirror sinking sun; waves were breaking foamy and lilac…I didn’t want to leave.
I read the information board — it said that the Gaelic name for the place translates as “Beach of the Burn of the Crone/old woman” (?). I had a momentary feeling of being under scrutiny as I made my way to the rushing stream where, allegedly, the crone had taken a tumble into the storm-swollen waters and had washed up dead on the beach. After timeless wandering along waters edge, mind emptied by the lull of water and in my element, I returned to the van and drove along to Rispond.
“ No through road/ No parking/ No turning/No access” were the signs that greeted me. I felt my dander rise and decided to park up anyway — a rebellious part of me wanting to do a “ fuck you” to the ghosts of Rispond and the likes of James Anderson perhaps ? The man who thought he owned the sea bed and rented it to the crofters to use, and paid them the pittance of wages for their kelping in tokens for his store which was, obviously, exorbitantly priced … bah…I was going to break the rules in honour of all my ancestors that suffered at the hands of men like Anderson, of all those who still suffer at the hands of folks like…bah…
I parked at a place on the cliff edge overlooking the bay , thoughts still racing gung-ho, and started to make food. Somewhere in the periphery of my awareness I noticed shortly after that the weather had changed from stillness to something that rocked the van somewhat in squalls of wind. I carried on slicing leeks, a little on alert, until heavy rain fell loudly like a spray of gunshot and I jumped up.
Call me superstitious( for this surely is an old wives’ tale ), but I felt the Cailleach around again. I had a growing anxiety that maybe it was me and my van that would end up over the cliff and in the burn that night if I stayed here with my attitude of arrogant pride in a storm; because really, I have the likes of James Anderson in me and my ancestry as much as I have the likes of the feisty crofters. “Your ancestors enemies are also your ancestors” rings true enough to my ears. Also, in the way I live my life now, driving around and the daily exploitations we all in the dominant culture take part in (to a greater or lesser degree) , I am caught red-handed. I decided to delay dinner-making and take the road following the Burn of the Crone into darkness.
I like being found by park-ups at night as I can’t be seduced by good looks alone. Senses other than sight have to get involved — Once a place seems to be calling me in, I feel for shelter, for a vibe of safety, of being tucked out of the way of disturbance (and the cackling of the crone !). And of course, there’s the delight of waking up to a mystery…
NB Just to let you know that I have a lot of love and thankfulness for that immature rebellious part of me that I developed as a young one to survive the difficulties of my childhood. Without that spirit of “push back”, I would not be who I am now . I see it as an act of love to myself and earth ( because I am earth too) to remind that little one of me that all her good work can stop; she can rest now as there’s an adult (me) who’s “got her back”, and who wishes to lean towards connection to all and non-judgement, in service of earth. It has also been my honour to redeploy that rebellious energy in a response-able (i.e non-reactionary) way for Extinction Rebellion on several arrestable occasions.