Cover photo for Elosa
March is usually such a changeable month, never deciding whether to be winter or spring or, occasionally and brazenly, summer. This March clearly decided to dig its heels in and be winter, with only a day or two of respite during the whole month. Perhaps this is one reason why this last month has seemed so very long. It seems much, much more than a month ago that Auri made a fabulous pirate for World Book Day, way back at the start of March. Near the beginning of the month, I drafted a tongue-in-cheek conversation with myself about publicly announcing plans and schemes, but I couldn’t resist privately having some hopes for what I might manage to do throughout spring. Needless to say, they fell at the first hurdle. Them’s the family breaks. At least I managed to make a start on The Library. Nevertheless, there has still been an increased feeling of coming out of hibernation. It has been lovely having friends round for dinner, or staying the weekend. Auri has continued her love of all things jigsaw and is enjoying an ever-growing social calendar of her own, and Elfi had her second round of vaccinations (which, oddly, were more brutal than the first, proving yet again that all daughters are so very different). She is so much bigger than Auri was at this age, and it is strange to see her topping out clothes in her age range. Auri was, until recently, always wearing clothes for much younger children, though there is little to no consistency across shops in these types of things. We enjoyed a lovely Mothers’ Day weekend at Stempster, and also closed out the month in Caithness; a welcome break after a particularly exhausting week or so when Euan had been away attending the Integrated Land Use Conference and then, a few days later, undertaking his induction at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, as part of his Treescapes Fellowship. I will forever be grateful for our friends who help out when I’m on my own with the girls. Last Monday night, I had to participate in a conference call (camera off, due to breast-feeding Elfi at the same time), and some friends picked up Auri and Scapa to go wear them out for an hour before bed. “It takes a village,” one of them said, “and we’re your village.” Life is good. A Murder of CrowsIn her March post, “Pincushion moss growing in the crevices of a stone wall. A stretch of freshly turned earth, fingered over by frost.”, Mum reflected on a cold and wintry March. My parents and sisters have had a snowy winter up at Stempster, much snowier than parts of the county even just down the road. March also marked the 37th Anniversary of the Crow family moving to Orkney: ““We had four children back then and we took ourselves off to an unknown (to us) place where we believed our children would be happy. We were right! Orkney was everything we had hoped it would be. The children were out of doors on fine days and soaking up the natural world like little sponges. They had freedom to roam and a hunger to learn about their environment.”” As well as his Not A Travel Writer update sneaking in on the last day of March and starting with thoughts on spring from a different pocket of the world, amongst other things including fantasy and techno, Alexander also shared his thoughts on How to Commit to Long Term Travel, a must-read for anyone still wondering whether a travelling life is for them, with practical suggestions about how to approach such a significant change in ways of living. Crowvus has also been busy, organising events and finalising their latest journal for publication. Their latest publication (imminent journal aside) is Heartstone by Clemency, “a middle grade fantasy adventure set in rural Cumbria.” My younger sisters also managed to capture some amazing pictures of the Merry Dancers when they paid a visit to Caithness mid-month. Check out Judith and Virginia’s Twitter accounts for their images. And so to April!I am finishing this draft early in the morning at Stempster, listening to the ticking of the clocks — oh, so many clocks! - and the chatter and bluster of the birds outside. Time for another cup of tea. Until next time, friends, Lydia and all at Elosa xxx
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#1 A Look Back at February 2023

Yeesh, what a month! Only half of it spent at home, one way or another. Euan spent a week in South Africa, in the Kruger National Park, so I and the two two-legged girls decamped to Stempster, while Scapa was dispatched to Cumbria, her home from home, to enjoy a week as the only dog in the household. We all then joined her from across the globe for a week enjoying the delights of Northern England. Of course, naturally, we all came down with a cough-cold-flu thing, which wasn’t too fun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: children are worse than rats and pigeons for spreading diseases. I swear the Bubonic Plague (as I wrote to a friend recently) was not spread by innocent little rats at all, it was probably a bunch of grinning toddler marauders trundling through the streets of London. Nevertheless, illness aside, a marvellous time was had by all over the fortnight (at least, by our all - I can’t vouch for our Stempster and Cumbria hosts). And here we are, March already. This is the first update on our collated recent goings-on. The intention is that they will be monthly-ish and act as a recap of recent events and posts, but I make no promises. You know what life is like sometimes. We only shared two posts in February, and one of those was a snippet from one of my notebooks dating back to January. The other was sharing the splendid news that it is now public knowledge that Euan has been awarded one of the fellowships attached to the Future of UK Treescapes programme. Euan’s project will focus on the wych elm and Dutch Elm Disease. He is The Elm Guy, after all. He’ll be working with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and, as well as the science bit (sampling and genetically analysing surviving and infected elm trees), he will be producing a children’s book to promote awareness and encourage citizen scientists to get involved in the elm hunt. So, if you are based in the UK and you’re aware of any healthy mature elm trees in your neck of the woods, do get in touch. Euan would love to hear from you. In these postcards, we’ll also share updates from our wider ecosystem of family and friends. So, on that note… A Murder of Crows Coming on for two years ago now, the Caithness Crows moved from Wick to Stempster House, west of Thurso. Since then, they have been dedicated to making the house and gardens feel loved again. During February, they battled storms and a power outage, but they also saw Jupiter, Venus and The Merry Dancers. And, after a resurgence of winter (more still to come, I suspect), skylarks were heard and lambs were spotted. The decorator has been in a couple of times and new windows have been fitted throughout the house and conservatory; and we Crow girls had much fun putting up a swing in the garden. You can read more about recent (and previous) events of the natural world in Mum’s February post, “February-Fill-Dyke, wet, windy, cold.” From Scotland to France, and Alexander’s latest Not A Travel Writer update, “Sudden, Rimed, Ridgelines,” included details of winter woods and woodpeckers, as well as exciting plans for the year ahead. And so to March! Well, we’ve got the ball rolling on these updates now, even if this one is a little sparse. Let’s see what the next month brings. Until next time, friends, Lydia and all at Elosa xxx
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