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Pink moon in a steekit stumba

by Tom Morton -

Mist. Haar. Stumba, in Shetland dialect. A steekit stumba is a mist so thick you can hardly see through it. And I write in the season for it; an autumn Thursday, as darkness begins to fall and the cooling atmosphere condenses droplets of water into opaque greyness. Hairst, as this time of year is called.

I love the misty mornings, the gathering billows of fog of an evening, the way light in its varied forms, from breaking dawn through blazing sun to the pink and orange of sunset, all produce a range of complex effects that leave you stunned by their loveliness.

Of course mist can and does have its drawbacks. Those of a superstitious or easily frightened nature will find it difficult to erase memories of John Carpenter’s film The Fog, and the zombie pirates massing to take a terrible revenge on the village that brought about their doom. But this happens all the time in Shetland and we’ve grown used to it. Besides, our vikings sorted out those pesky pirates a while ago.

And then there are the flight delays. Yes, I know. Horribly inconvenient, but if it provides you with an extra day or, ah, three in these gorgeous northern isles, can you really complain?

Our vikings sorted out those pesky pirates a while ago

Tonight we drove up to Eshaness, hoping to catch, as we have in the past, the dappling of the entire sky in flaming orange that happens when the sun dips below the horizon and catches the forming fog above. The sun shimmered, perfectly round and blood red, then vanished into a thick bank of haar. We went for a walk anyway, from the lighthouse west, in the nightfall breeze. And then, coming back in the car, saw the full moon catching the stumba-filtered pinkness of the sunset. Hairst moon.

And so back home, the lyrics to Nick Drake’s wondrous song running through our heads:

Saw it written and I saw it say

Pink Moon is on its way

And none of you stand so tall

Pink Moon gonna get you all...

Saw it written and I saw it say...
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