I’ve always loved Roger McGough’s poem “The Fight of the Year” in which spring and winter are personified as two boxers battling it out in the ring. At the start of the poem, winter is already looking groggy; after being relentlessly pummelled with tadpoles, squirrels, bobtail clouds and pavement artists winter is vanquished and spring declared the winner. Hurrah!
Every March in Shetland we see a particularly dramatic enactment of this annually recurring fight. At some points, spring will seem to be well and truly here: then winter will rally and will send forth icy winds, rain and even snow. These wintry interludes are never totally spirit sapping though, as we know that by now the cold, dark days are on their way out, and that we can look forward to enjoying Shetland at her brilliant best in the run up to the summer.
This month’s magazine celebrates getting out and about in Shetland. After the long months of winter inertia, comfort eating and early nights, it’s a great time of year for enjoying all the wonders on our doorstep.
In March’s Shetland Life, Alex Garrick-Wright visits Michaelswood to find out the story behind the most recent addition to this very special place (look out for Alexa Fitzgibbon’s gorgeous accompanying photographs too). Karen McKelvie writes about the riches to be found in rockpools and we learn about the tracks of local writer and naturalist Jill Slee Blackadder’s life. Alastair Christie-Johnson shares his favourite Yell-based walk and Douglas C. Smith reminisces about a snowy March over 60 years ago, along with the dare-devilish sledging opportunities it offered him and his friends.
As anyone will tell you, if youwant to experience the great outdoors in Shetland, you’ll need to be dressed for it. Luckily, Louise Thomason is on hand with some advice to help you look good while staying warm and dry.
It’s all very well getting ourselves out of the house, but what about our children? There’s plenty of food for thought in Alex Garrick-Wright’s article about young Shetlanders’ growing disconnect with nature (on page 14). I’ve had the chance to ponder this issue myself recently, as I’ve stood around on windy street corners watching my son catch Pokemon on his phone (there are loads outside da Wheel Bar in case you’re interested). When you need to resort to blatant bribery to get your child over the front door, something has to change. If you’re in a similar boat, check out Alex’s helpful list of local child-friendly nature promoting organisations.
There’s lots of exciting community news too: Debra Nicolson writes about the challenges and rewards of rehearsing for the Shetland County Drama Festival, Raman Mundair reflects on a recent arts project she delivered in Wastview care home, the COPE gardeners are back with news and horticultural tips, and local food producer David Polson shares some delicious saat fish recipes.
See you in April, when (with a little bit of luck) winter should be well and truly out for the count. Wishing you all a wonderful spring time.