I woke this morning to some muted sunlight coming in through my back windows…in the distance small islands in the bay float in shining stillness of sea and I can hear that dark burn water rushing after a night of heavy rain. I usually stick covers over my windows for warmth, but last night I left them down because (she whispers) I’m hoping to see the northern lights. I’m almost not admitting this desire to myself…I think I’m imagining that if I feign nonchalance, I’ll be able to sidle up on them and they won’t evade me. Already, my friend in Dunbar has told me she’s seen them twice whilst I’ve been much further north. I’m trying not to mind :-)

I have a memory of sitting outside in my duvet in the back garden in Kidderminster when I was a young teen, having heard that a rare sighting was possible on the local news we religiously watched every teatime. I had woken up to the sky “looking like a disco “ above the council houses and gardens., which is how I wrote it in my diary then. Though that diary entry logs the event in the “real world”, the memory itself feels imaginal, unsubstantial as if I hadn’t really woken up.

When I was 40 I said I’d like to see the aurora by the time I’m 50. I forgot all about this little pledge to myself until heading off north on October 9th and seeing my aurora-blessed friend in Dunbar who mentioned them. I find myself curious as to the thread that runs between the girl I was then and the woman I am now. Despite having no encouragement at that time from anywhere to court such things, that young one was drawn enough to get up from much needed sleep of a teenager on a school night to witness the Merrie Dancers. I can feel the tug of that thread, pulling me on this journey and wonder what I am moving towards.

So the cat’s out the bag. I have a secret soul mission that is so mysterious I didn’t know I had it ’til half way here. I knew I was on a mission of sorts…but this was to do with carrying gratitude for all the dark and difficult and formative things that have happened since May 2017 — for the paring back to the bones of things, the tending of these bones, and the fleshing out once more into something more alive than ever…such strange and needed gifts. I may write more on this…and also want to clarify that by “soul” I mean the wild place within me that is direct conversation with the wildness of earth. I sense soul through a yearning for deeper connection with earth ( which includes with my wild self, as I am also part of earth, as you are too). Soul yearning often has the hallmark of a potent combination of allure and fear…do you know it ?

So, this morning I am on the back road between the Coigach and Lochinver, in a place that I sincerely believe is the most beautiful place I have put my body. My early wakening to sun got me out and running down a windy single track through birch and hazel woods that are a golden relief to the bracken covered bareness of the overgrazed mountains beyond. There are no birds I can hear though a heron watches me pensively from a seaweedy cove that I smell before I see…such a powerfully evocative smell, that reek of old bladderwrack. Reminds me of deep breathes and relaxed sea edge wanderings and the dapple of sealskin as one glides into the depths.

I parked at the brow of a hill last night and this steep incline was the last 5 mins of my run — when I reached the top I was hot hot hot and wobbling…Almost without conscious thought I had my clothes off and into the quiet lochan I went, sinking up to my knees in its black mud, its piercing cold entering me, slowing me. I became part of the reflection of blue sky, clouds and birch trees as I floated, feeling the intense chill rouse the fire within me.

As I sit here now, hands and feet still stiff with cold, I give profound thanks for the faithful friendship of my body. Despite many years of neglect and mistreatment through alcohol, drugs, sugar, stress, lethargy she is still able to put me in the way of beauty — still can walk, run, dance, hear, see, smell, feel my place on this planet and is the tool through which I can create beauty in service of earth; is the medium by which earth has her way with me. I’m a lucky lucky woman.

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