“It’s your fault there are no trees on the Isle of Harris” was the first thing we said, almost in unison, to the lorry driver standing by the cab of his open top lorry near The Anchorage restaurant in Leverburgh. Our eyes were drawn to TREE FELLER written along the side of the vehicle. I’m puzzled, was written all over his face. I gestured with my arms, waving at the landscape, not a tree in sight. He still looked puzzled. The lorry driver’s job, was, as the two-word description on the side of the lorry clearly spelled out, a tree feller. “There are very few trees on Harris. You’re a tree feller” I said pointing to the side of the lorry. “You’re the culprit”. “Ah!” he said. The penny dropped. It wasn’t important though.
Out here on the Island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides is a desolate, grey, rocky, treeless landscape. Under its spacious sky, the rest of the world seems even less important. Taking a photograph of a heart-shaped stone in an ancient stone wall miles from Tarbert… then knocking on the door of Croft 36 in the Hebridean outpost of Northton and watching Julie and Steve baking their rolls and preparing scrumptious takeaway meals that had been ordered for delivery that evening. That’s what’s important. And the space around you and breathing in the air. That’s important.
And we knew the lorry driver with TREE FELLER emblazoned on his vehicle had also, earlier, called in at Croft 36. His lorry was parked right across their roadside shed in Northton when we arrived there an hour earlier, and that’s when we first noticed TREE FELLER on the side of his vehicle and thought it ironic on the virtually treeless Isle of Harris. And he too was impressed by the great food in Croft 36’s humble shed, and Julie and Steve’s menus on the wall of seafood pies, fish curries and thermidores to order, their cooked half lobsters, home-baked bread rolls and pasties, and with the honesty box provided for customers’ payments. That was important.
As we stood together in Leverburgh, talking in the strong wind by the open door of this fella’s lorry he told us how he’d driven at 50mph all the way from Glasgow to Harris for the first time, and how his little girl sitting on the front seat and dressed in a new pink Harris Tweed frock, loved the place, the space and the air. That was important.
I liked the fact that this Glaswegian lorry driver appreciated Croft 36 in Northton on the Isle of Harris and “the trust of those people”.
And that’s what’s important.