THERE are families on this small Orkney island of Sanday who have been here for generations, whose Orcadian lineage goes back to time immemorial.
In farm terms, I reckon these folk (although they might not like it!) could be called the heft flock of the island. I would love to have that sense of deep-rooted belonging. But the fact is, I haven't. At the very least one must be born here to achieve that, and ideally be born into a family of long island standing. Unlike me.
A friend recently described me as a migratory bird. If so, I must be a goose who landed among the heft flock and grazed alongside for a while. Now I'm restless to be off and I'm spreading my wings for a long flight south. After months of discussion and much heartache, my boys (one husband, three sons) and I have decided to leave Sanday and fly to Australia to continue our exploration of life's possibilities on a whole new continent.
By no stretch of the imagination has this been an easy decision. Sanday is a fabulous, beautiful, wild place from which, as the same perceptive friend pointed out to me, one does not simply move away as one would from a more mainstream, less emotionally binding place. There's an enormous sense of leaving, almost of abandonment, of both the island and her community. Sanday has welcomed us and allowed us to thrive and grow within the freedom and security of her sandy shores. Leaving her is very hard to do.
There are many reasons for our decision. One of my strong and abiding desires as a mother has been to give my boys as much breadth of experience as possible. My theory runs along the lines of: try a bit of everything and then see what you'd like to do with your life. I have certainly shown them a remote existence and a wildly cold climate. I think they've pretty much got the hang of, and come to love, such things as walking along a deserted beach, cycling in a high wind, socialising with everyone from the babies to the octogenarians of a 500-strong community and spending a lot of time in their own, quiet company.
For my next trick I'd like to help them become a bit more savvy in the city. There are many aspects of life in this world about which they are extremely naive. I'd like to take them to big sports stadiums - to spectate and perhaps eventually to compete. I'd like them to have access to Olympic-sized pools, packed concert halls, busy cinemas and the widest range of clubs and activities imaginable. Pavements, traffic, noise, crowds and crime may sound like pure negatives, but all are aspects of the glories of humanity that need to be learned about.
Most of all, I'd like to introduce the boys to a different climate. I love the wild, wet, windy and occasionally magically sunny weather of Orkney. I'm sure I'll miss it. But with the best will in the world, outdoor activities do become curtailed for long periods of winter. The sunshine and heat of Western Australia will be an extreme contrast for us. We'll have to learn to put on layers of protective cream rather than warm and waterproof clothing, wide-brimmed hats rather than woolly bonnets and cool sandals rather than cosy wellies. I admit I'm looking forward to the challenge.
I could continue to regale you with all our logical reasoning, but at its heart lies a core of truth: I am a restless soul. I may envy that sense of belonging, but I completely lack it. Last week I turned 44 and with every year that passes my urgency to fill life with new experience and exploration grows. I have loved my Scottish island odyssey and now it's time for something completely different. It's time for us to have a go at "big island life".
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West