July,1830, on the ten-hour sailing west from the Hebrides to the Island of St.Kilda...
Neil is to become the minister to the small community of Islanders...
Page 60; They often make shoes out of the necks of gannets, they cut the head off at the eyes and the part where the skull was serves as the heel of the shoe and the feathers on the throat offer warmth and water proofing. They generally only last a couple of days, but at times there are so many birds that they can wear these disposable socks almost daily.
Page 61; Yes it is true, that they are largely used to governing their own affairs, agreed the minister.
Forgive me sir, but do you not think that we have something to learn from them? George insisted.
Neil MacKenzie, the minister and his zealous Christianity, concentrating on his god, is way out of touch with life and how to live. Titania
Hirta (Scottish Gaelic: Hiort) is the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago, on the western edge of Scotland. The names "Hiort" (in Scottish Gaelic) and "Hirta" (historically in English) have also been applied to the entire archipelago.
The island measures 3.4 kilometres from east to west, and 3.3 kilometres from north to south. It has an area of 6.285 square kilometres and about 15 km of coastline. The only real landing place is in the shelter of Village Bay on the southeast side of the island. The island slopes gently down to the sea at Glen Bay (at the western end of the north coast), but the rocks go straight into the sea at a shallow angle and landing here is not easy if there is any swell at all. Apart from these two places, the cliffs rise sheer out of deep water. The highest summit in the island, Conachair, forms a precipice 430 m high .St Kilda is probably the core of a Tertiary volcano, but, besides volcanic rocks, it contains hills of sandstone in which the stratification is distinct.
The islands were continuously populated from prehistoric times until the 1930s, when the remaining inhabitants were evacuated
Viking burials have been found there. St. Kilda was part of the Lordship of the Isles, then a property of the MacLeods of Dunvegan from 1498 until 1930. There were three chapels on St. Kilda, dedicated to St Brendan, St Columba, and Christ Church, but little remains. There are also the remains of a beehive house, known as the Amazon's House.
The islanders had a tough life, and survived by exploiting the thousands of sea birds living on the islands. There are a large number of cleits, huts used for storing dried sea birds, fish, hay and turf. The islanders had a very democratic system, and decisions were taken by an island council, made up of all the menfolk. The present village was set out in the 1830s above Village Bay, but in the 1880s some of the population left for Australia, and the remaining inhabitants were finally evacuated in the 1930s because of hardship and storms that had cut off the islands for weeks.
Limp hangs the washing on the line, trees and shrubs are dripping; the clouds hang deep and grey; blue is rare and fickle.
The garden looks green and the plants rejoice in the rain falling in a steady drumming on my roof.
The Rainy Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
THE DAY is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
The Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys) colloquially known as the Bellbird, is a colonial honeyeater endemic to southeastern Australia. They were given their common name because they feed almost exclusively on the dome-like coverings of certain psyllid bugs, referred to as "bell lerps," that feed on eucalyptus sap from the leaves. The "bell lerps" make these domes from their own honeydew secretions in order to protect themselves from predators and the environment. They are also very likelye named after their bell-like call.
Bell miners live in large, complex social groups. Within each group there are subgroups consisting of several breeding pairs, but also including a number of birds who are not currently breeding. The non breeders help in providing food for the young in all the nests in the subgroup, even though they are not necessarily closely related to them. The birds defend their colony area communally aggressively, excluding most other passerine species. They do this in order to protect their territory from other insect-eating birds that would eat the bell lerps on which they feed. Whenever the local forests die back due to increased lerp psyllid infestations, bell miners undergo a population boom. Courtesy Wikipedia
I do like the call of the bellbirds, the sound of little bells ring through the forest. Some people do not like it, they say it is noisy, Crickets and cicadas are noisy or the perpetual sound of the sea or rain. I don’t mind the natural sounds. The ear gets used to it. My ears hurt and are annoyed by human made noises. Loud music, base amplifiers, if music is the right word for this sort of noise from the abyss! Roaring Motorbikes or cars every noise humans make, like in a shopping centre the constant monotonous droning and thrumming on of voices and sounds are annoying to me.
Bell Birds by Henry Kendall
By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling;
It lives in the mountain, where moss ad the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges:
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers,
And softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.
The silver voiced bell-birds, the darlings of day-time,
They sing in September their songs of the May-time.
When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle,
They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;
When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,
They start up like fairies that follow fair weather,
And straightway the hues of the feathers unfolden
And the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.
October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses,
Loiters knee-deep in the grasses to listen,
Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten.
Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the morning.
Welcome as waters, unkissed by the summers
Are the voices of bell-birds to thirsty far-comers.
When fiery December sets foot in the forest,
And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
Pent in the ridges for ever and ever,
The bell-birds, direct him to spring and to river,
With ring and with ripple, like runnels whose torrents
Are turned by the pebbles and leaves in the currents.
Often I sit looking back to a childhood
Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of passion --
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strengths of the deep mountain valleys,