I lay in bed this morning listening to the wind on the face of the house, slamming the window in Katy’s room against it’s frame, and feeling euphoric about having shelter. The feeling was even more heightened after I’d gone outside to feed Ship-Ahoy (I finally bought seed for him rather than giving him a daily share of my porridge oats). It’s gusting up to 40mph today, and overnight has swung from a broadly northerly direction round to a South-Easterly. The ferries are on alert.
My plan today is to go to North Harbour (a ten minute walk) at low tide – that’s at 12.30pm today – and see if I can reach, or just spot, some driftwood that, apparently, has been washed-up on a small island off Gometra called Eilean Dioghtum. On a calmer day I might be able to get across and fetch some.
Anyhow, back to my euphoria!
I’ve always enjoyed listening to storms, but not with the amazement and sense of involvement that I have here. What I’ve concluded is that the sheer blessing of having shelter is most powerful when I’m on the very brink of being unsheltered. Single-paned windows and permeable walls, paradoxically, help me to feel sheltered, whereas in weather-tight buildings there’s no contrast: nothing to feel relieved from nor thankful for. Maybe my passion for tents and bivouacs has the same root feeling.
Someone asked me why I saw doing my Expedition from the Backdoor as an answer to infirmity, even increasing my pain in the process, and these thoughts about shelter give me a more of a handle on the answer. The vitality that pain saps away takes even more exposure to the elements to be re-kindled.
Nature knows us best and helps us most.