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Shetland in March

On my first visit to Shetland, last May, I’d expected wild seas, a hostile, windswept, uninhabited land. Instead I found blue skies, calm waters and traces everywhere of the people who had lived and worked in Shetland over thousands of years. I returned to Shetland this March believing that now that I understood the landscape. Now I would be able to find what I felt I’d missed on my last visit, the edges between things, the skin that marks the point when something stops being one thing and becomes another. the skin where sea becomes land, when the sky turns into sea, when the past becomes the present.


I found weather that changed by the minute. Wind whipped through the pages of my drawing book. It blew sheets of paper into the sea and sand into my eyes. Sudden brilliant sun in a clear blue sky made rainbows in spindrift while I stood in pouring hail watching my drawing disintegrate. Horizons disappeared in rainclouds. The land itself dissolved and melted and changed shape as the sun shone or rain obscured everything. 


In this convoluted, serpentine landscape, like a lizard floating on the sea, there are no edges. Air and water, sea and the frozen waves of the land, wind and the bare, treeless hills are the same.  On Shetland, edges fade into each other.  Nothing is constant. Nothing remains the same. Solid rock melts into water, land fades into air and vanishes. There are no edges between things.

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