See How Nicely Everything Works Out? 🍯 (Public)

“Hope you have a lovely winter, do come by for tea when you’re settled in.”

See How Nicely Everything Works Out? 🍯 (Public)
My office at Pengold Cottage. Photo: Nik Schulz


Yipes, loneliness is hitting me like a rock. The initial couple of weeks will be the hardest I think, quiet house, pitch-black island, just the throbbing hum of the refrigerator to keep me company. It really is a shock to go from the media-saturated, instant-everything culture that we live in to the slow, methodical, weather-worn quiet that I now inhabit. What a drawn out, pulling, emptiness in my chest.


The other morning, after a brief walk around the island, I came in to find a jar of local honey that Ellen and Bryce from across the road had left with a card attached: “Hope you have a lovely winter, do come by for tea when you’re settled in.” They had left it on the table in the kitchen, not at the door or in the mailbox (not that we have one anyway). Doors are more like semi-permeable membranes it seems. You know you can always just pop in.

Later in the day I went out to watch the sunset at about 5:00 p.m., only to find I’d already missed it, which did actually shock me a little. That means the sun sets solidly in the afternoon. Two seconds later a woman pulled up on a tractor and introduced herself as the mother of a guy I had met the other day. It’s funny—everyone always seems to know me before I’ve met them (“Oh yes, the American”). She then asked if I had plans for Christmas. “Not sure yet, I may be here,” I say. “Just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to be alone. You’re always welcome over at ours for Christmas dinner...” and I did, I felt instantly welcome.


I’m noticing that time slips away easily here. There are cats to pet, walks to take and cows to talk to, and since life isn’t rushing past around me, I don’t feel rushed. I heard a story when I was here last summer. I don’t know if it’s true. Maybe it was just something to test the gullibility of outsiders but it was told to me like this: A woman once wanted a porch added to the back of her house and a local carpenter said he’d do it, but he wouldn’t be able to get to it right away. “No problem,” the woman said, “whenever you have some free time let me know.” A year went by, then two. “Are you going to have time to build that porch this summer?” the woman asked again. “Oooh, I’m not sure but I will let you know,” came the reply. “Well, do keep it in mind.” That summer passed, as did the next and the next and the next. “I was really hoping that this spring you might be able to build that porch for me,” the woman inquired again. Came the retort: “Look, if I’d known you wanted it done that quickly I would have never taken the job!”

The point is yesterday it was Tuesday and today it’s Friday and I don’t know what happened in between.

Anyway I do remember this: I took a bath the other day with water from the roof heated in the stove. I fiddled with taps, let the water run and went to pour more heating oil into the tank outside or something. When I came back to get into the tub, the water was tinged green and floating with bits of moss, and I’m not talking the odd bit of moss dancing and darting around as I tried to scoop it out. No, it was basically a moss-bath. I figured it would be good for my skin—can anyone confirm?—and jumped in.

It occurred to me, after I was generously moss-covered, that there exists here a much greater integration of inside and out. A lot of “inside” spends time outside: chairs sit for years in the garden, cans, jugs, buckets and bottles crowd together near the path at the side of the house, and notes and notices brave the weather on the wall down at the post-office/store.

Conversely, “outside” seems to have no problem making itself at home indoors. Observe: my former bed in the barn from last summer (four shipping pallets and a mattress) now has a large rowboat resting on it. Assorted implements of yore have found retirement accommodations in various cottages: propellers, oars, the odd oxen yoke. A patch of tiny clover has snuck in from a larger patch just outside doorframe and grows in our entranceway. Beyond that, moths, moss, wind and weather all manage to drop in on occasion.

But our door is often open (literally, not just figuratively) and I don’t mind because I feel somehow more integrated into the bigger scheme of life than if my inside and outside never mingled.

Did I mention that there are about 70–80 people living on this island? Well, there are about 70–80 spiders living in our house. See how nicely everything works out?