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  • Janette Kerr Land of Ice

What more there is lies within the mountain

Started to re-read Nan Shepherd’s seminal book The Living Mountain. She talks about being initially obsessed with reaching peaks and summits, and not considering or exploring the recesses – ‘what more there is lies within the mountain’. That there's more to find in the recesses, amongst the rocks and streams and places below.

There is a tantalising mountain that dominates Skagaströnd; so near so far. There are ways up, tracks accessible in summer months when light lasts long with no or very little snow or ice underfoot. We talk amongst ourselves of the possibility of maybe walking part way up on a sunny still day, but I’m not so sure there is a need or even if it’s wise to even try. Shepherd writes of walking amongst the elements; of how the elements are ungovernable, unpredictable. Weather changes so fast here, and although I am used to this in Shetland, here it is more extreme. You just don’t mess with this kind of weather. Looking up at this mountain is probably enough; it’s different everyday, cloud covering, snow travelling across, changing shapes and angles, revealing and concealing, sometimes more black rock showing through the snow, sometimes it disappears completely.

Walking across the bridge and onto the thick slabs of ice strewn carelessly around. There's a crack opening up like a line being drawn on the landscape. I look down inside the ice,and peer inside – water rock earth ice.

Ice edge, melt water flowing off the land back to the sea

Flecks of grass and earth caught in snow - more lines

Daytime it’s slushy underfoot and I walk through puddles of melting ice and snow, night it’s freezing over and I slip and slide and crunch my way home. The wind comes and goes, increases and decreases. Why does it always do that whistling sound at night? Earplugs are the only way to ensure uninterrupted sleep. I’ve realised how tiring this weather is when I’m out drawing. Again I should know this from being out walking and drawing Shetland. But this is more intense. Maybe it’s the combination of the constant sound of wind blowing and buffeting me - its relentlessness - as well as dealing with the intensity of cold.

A few small drawings


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