I reread yesterday’s post about Islands, specifically the paragraph about Iona, and it brought back my absolute favourite memory of that visit.
We had disembarked from the ferry and were walking along a little road heading to the abbey. It is lined on one side with houses and in yesterday’s photo of the beach, you can see those houses. So we were walking along there and on the right, was the view of the ocean and further, to the Isle of Mull where we’d caught the ferry.
Along the road on the right were walled off gardens and yards, belonging to the houses opposite, across the road on the left so the view as we walked was actually across these gardens to the sea. In the enclosures we saw garden implements, sheds, childrens’ toys, bikes, flowers, shrubs, the usual sort of things you see in people’s back yards and gardens.
Then I noticed a group of women sitting together in one of the gardens. What really struck me so much is that they were all sitting together on the ground, with warm coats, scarves and hats on (it was a cool, windy day in April) and they had a full tea set on a tray nearby. Teapot, milk, sugar, spoons, the lot. They didn’t just make a cuppa in their own kitchens and bring it with them. They made an occasion of it. They made tea properly in a pot, poured it and sorted out their preferences for milk and sugar and there they sat, cradling cups of hot tea against the chilly air, chatting, laughing, and enjoying more or less the view in the photo above, and, I imagined, celebrating the end of winter.
Who cared if it was a bit chilly to sit outside? Winter was no more and spring was struggling to establish itself on an island that probably seemed very desolate in the winter. They were sheltered from the breeze by the stone walls and the sun had a bit of early spring warmth to it. I was enchanted with the scene. It just felt so right, women friends sharing their lives over a cup of tea. I was too shy to ask if I could take a photo of them and too close to do it without them noticing because I had a large SLR at the time, not a discreet, smaller digital camera.
The moment passed as did I, en route to the Abbey. The memory stays with me.