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Terminalia February 2022

The boundary between night and day

Terminalia February 2022

Having waited all day for the rain and hailstones to ease off I take my chance and slip out at dusk. My terminalia walk is taken in that time boundary between night and day.

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A strong wind is still blowing as I open the gate onto Robert’s land and head off down the track. An impromptu pond has formed on one side and the ditch on the other side is full of water flowing off the hill.

 

Large pools of water lie in front of the gate; I climb over the fence, circumnavigating sheep hurdles before heading down to the voe.

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Clouds move fast across the sky; at the end of the voe sea is breaking high over rocks.

My feet sink into sodden grass as I jump across rivulets, the sound of trickling water filling the air. Startled sheep scatter and take to the hills, disappearing into the gloom.

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Arriving beside the voe, the tide is ebbing; I watch it for a while as it pushes and pulls against the stones. The far hills blur into the sky; I consider going further, but the dark is gathering, as are clouds full of rain and hail.

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An icy north wind buffets me as I turn and walk back along the edge of the voe. Hands are beginning to freeze, despite two pairs of fingerless gloves - maybe I should have brought my mittens. I stuff my hands into my pockets and start walking. I look up and see the lights from my house, tiny against the black shape of the land. The pile of stone built into a marker on the hillside beside the voe is silhouetted against the night sky - maybe a meid to guide the boats into the land.

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Through the small wooden gate into Robbie’s field, the wood rough under my hand. I think of him making the gate and wooden bridge I'm crossing over the tiny stream beside the wall.

 

Passing the circular stone-walled plantigrub; once it held the family cabbages, now full of weeds. Another small wooden gate in the wall; I wonder when it was last used.

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Ahead, in the gloom, lie the ruined farmhouse and barn, roofs falling in, once full of voices of the Abernathy family who have owned this land for over a hundred years.

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I follow the croft's walls down to the path beside the voe. Light from the mussel farm yard reflecting in the black water. I peer into the silent yard, full of piles of rope, buoys, bags for the mussels, planks of wood.

There's a sound of water. Through the grass I can just make out the full stream pouring down hill into the sea.

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Legs and ground merge and disappear in the dark; shadowy shape of my house reflected in puddles.  I stride up towards the lights.

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Just in time - here come the rain.

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In memory of my neighbour Robert Abernather who died in 2021

Terminalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the Terminus, the god who presided over boundaries, celebrated on 23 February, the last day of the old Roman year, from where it derives its name.