Given the current difficult situation for so many of us, I'm planning to record something of our Scottish spring garden over the next few weeks and beyond. Even though we too are worrying about loved ones, we are lucky enough to live in a rural area - and we have a garden. Moreover, this is an old terraced cottage, built around 1808, so if the weather permits - which it doesn't always in the west of Scotland - we can sit outside and chat to our neighbours over the hedge!
As a writer, married to an artist, I'm used to a certain amount of self isolation - although as soon as you know you can't do something, you badly want to do it. Somebody asked me today if we were coping, being indoors together. Well, although I get out and about to book events and so on, I do spend a lot of time working at home. Again, we're lucky enough to have separate rooms: Alan downstairs painting in his studio, and myself upstairs, writing in a room with a view. And I certainly have plenty of work to be getting on with. But it helps to have the garden, and like the secret garden in the book, this 200 year old garden is busy waking up from its winter sleep.
When I wrote a novel called The Posy Ring, I had one of my characters, a 16th century Scottish girl called Lilias, say 'ah God, I do wish the Cailleach would go to sleep. Can you not feel her, nodding and yawning, like a child who resists with every wee piece of her. Can you not feel her?' And when Spaniard Mateo asks what she means, she continues, 'the Cailleach is the wise old woman. ... She walks the fields, bringing winter in her wake. A good thing too. The land needs to sleep. And we need to rest for a time, while she walks and renews, walks and renews. Only now she's growing weary. It's her turn to lie down and sleep. Then the springtime will come. You can feel her clinging on. Soon, she'll not be able to resist. She will lie down and take her rest and the blessed Bride will come and bring the springtime with her all over again.'
The Cailleach and Bride or Brigid are two aspects of the same goddess, both essential. But here the Cailleach lingers, more than ever this year, even while blessed Bride is already scattering the hedgerows with flowers and filling the trees with birds. It's a strange and stressful time for most of us, but those of us with gardens or with some access to the countryside, can take comfort from green and growing things - and those of us who haven't, and are indoors, on lockdown, well - we'll do our best for you with words and pictures.
I can't promise to post on here every day - but I'll try to post as often as possible. Come back again soon.