Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Off track

I thought it a good idea - a happy, positive idea - to map the wonderful place I live - its nature and wildlife - in pictures and poetry. Thank you so much to those who encouraged me in the idea.

But Sheppey, where I live, is a complex place, both in itself, and for me. When I first arrived, around five years ago, I found myself in the odd position of both feeling at home, and a complete outsider. It has a mixed reputation. Birders, and many others, love the marshes, the sea and the open spaces - it is a haven for waders and raptors in the cooler months. In the summer they are overtaken by flocks of holidaymakers. People come here to live and to work. And people come here to escape and hide. It is not just one place - it is a lot of small places linked and yet strangely separate. There is not just one landscape, there are myriads. And sometimes they overlap. It is a strange place.

I've spent time over the last few weeks - as I have done ever since I came to the island - walking, looking, taking pictures. There is a great deal of beauty on the island, even in unexpected places, but when I come to write, there appears to me to be an underlying sadness, or sense of loss, which is both real and imagined. And not what I hoped this project would be about. But that happens.To me, anyway.

I've looked back at pictures and poems and notes I've built up over my time here, and found this, which I scribbled about four years ago, coincidentally (!) sitting outside the local caff.

The Outsider

She lived down by the sea, they knew,
and she was always on her own,
but she would smile at passers-by.
That worried them.

Her hair was long and grey and loose,
and round her neck she often had
a camera and snapped away.
That worried them.

She'd sit outside the caff most days
and write things in a little book,
then tuck it safely in her coat.
That worried them.

She'd stand down by the sea and watch
the tide, the sand, the birds, the sky.
The weather didn't bother her.
That worried them.

They didn't know where she'd come from
or what she'd done before she came,
or where she went - just that she'd gone.
That worried them -
but not for long. 

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying I've gone a bit off track with my new project. But I have some interesting pics and I'll be tweeting them, and possibly blogging them, sometimes with words, sometimes not, and I'll keep scribbling and see what happens.

Let me know what you think.

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