It was my son who actually pointed it out. It was hanging just over the corner of our barn and bent like Artemis’ bow. Actually now that I think back, it was the most adharcachd I’ve ever seen. There’s a good feeling, deep and subtle, that comes with it too. It’s seang enough that I can’t say that I feel any happier or excited than I would have been, ach tha blas innte mar a tha. It makes me wonder exactly what is possible.
Ghlac an cù againn coinean mòr Dihaoine – an achievement that I never thought she had in her. She’s a fine little dog and fast, but I never thought that she was that fast. The mòr-shluagh of rabbits that populate our fields has afforded her great joy in the chase, but I never thought she would actually bring one in. When I saw her trotting with a jauntily cocked tail, the rabbit’s limp body swinging from her muzzle, I honestly wondered if she hadn’t found a rabbit that had died of either old age or poison, but a thorough inspection of the still-warm body (no less the liver and organs on dressing) convinced me that she had truly brought an coinean in by herself.
The real joy of it, however, was not in the unexpected benefit of wild rabbit for a stew but in the sense of reality it brought. Frustrations from work had come to a head agus bha mi am’ fhearg fhuilteach. Sitting at a desk day in and day out struggling to adapt to the British system of education has been a long process of increasing frustration. By comparison with North America, the bureaucratic processes in place anns an Riaghltais Aonaichte are nigh draconian. It is all very sensible and rational of course, and our current line manager reacted with moral indignation at the thought of academic institutions whose systems of assessments or grading were not kept strictly in line with national standards. This added to my frustrations leis a’ Ghàidhlig – that is, trying to find support and community in developing my own proficiency – had brought me to my breaking point, but it was better than a cold shower in a Tennessee waterfall when mo chù dubh beag rounded the corner of the house with her rabbit. Cleaning and dressing it grounded me in a way that is hard to describe. Maybe it was the idea of getting back into a rhythm with the land. Maybe it was spending time amuigh leis a’ chù ‘s a’ ghrìan, fhuar, fhaoilteach agus a’ fàgail às na cruim nan speur.
There was even a certain pleasure in disjointing the rabbit, but I feel the need to point out that it was not pleasure in destruction but the simple pragmatism of the act. It took me back to fishing on searing summer afternoons in South Carolina. The catfish would be slick and cold under my hands even as the hot, fragrant pine needles and brittle shards of bark bit into the bare arches of my feet, still tingling with the heat of the dock.
I’ve tried to continue in that pleasure since then, agus cuideachd leis na gealach ùr has come a number of ideas that have cleared much of the air. My wife and I are looking at ways that we can begin working the land, possibly moving to a small holding, a-raoir leis na gealach ùr fresh in my mind’s eye agus a’ ghaoth mhòr rising in the darkness after the moon’s setting, I started the first of a series of batches of mead with an eye to building up a cohort of recipes for development when we get our hives. It was just a simple batch to get back into the rhythm of the craft: 4 2/3 lbs. of Tesco brand clear mead and high alcohol yeast in 2.5 gallons uisge. I’ve also started some seedlings in preparation for planting starting near the middle or end of March, so maybe things will look up. Chi sinn.