I was standing in the doorway of my great-grandmother’s croft home, three summers ago. It was my first trip to Shetland-after flying to Edinburgh from New York on one day, and the next, taking a train to Aberdeen, then a 12-hour, overnight ferry to Lerwick Port, and a car ride up to North Roe. Just a day into that first trip, I was introduced to Bertha and Douglas Murray and from their croft home, was shown Peat Haa off in the distance, my great-grandmother’s birth home. Within minutes, I was standing in the threshold of the ruin-about 150 years after Jane Stove would have been living there.
Douglas drove me over in his pick-up and let me out to walk up the hill to Peat Haa. An 8 or 9-year old boy, stood in his rubber boots and slicker, looking out to me from behind binoculars. He started talking before I reached him, about the retired, French airplane that is parked in his drive, in front of his contemporary, cedar shake home built just above the ruin. I half listened, peering into the ruin through the doorway-four supporting, hand-build stone walls were intact and two built-in hearths remained at either end. The upper floor and thatched roof were missing-the open space filled with fallen wood beams and slats. The staircase was detached and askew, open to the sky. Continue reading