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September 14, 2014 By Andy Ross

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for the beauty of the earth

I have just finished reading a book which combines opera, nature and art. And the ending of it has got me thinking.

Author, Thomas Urquhart, writes eloquently and passionately about the links we all share with our earth, and the final part of the book is about the mystery of beauty. What is beauty? Why does it exist, and, indeed, does it exist? It is a fascinating question and much bigger than I can ever hope to answer but it got me pondering why we do what we do in a place like Yell, Shetland.

I live in a very beautiful place made more so by the fact that people have lived here for thousands of years and changed the landscape as we have done so. Just down the road is a broch, a stone conical tower, which guards the entrance to the seaway between Yell and Unst. Nearby there is an acient mound which conceals a church, and everywhere you look, if your eye is attunded to the nuances of the land, there are echoes of the past, both distant and close to our present day. It is comforting to think that, whatever the troubles around us, the land continues to survive.This life has led me to a much greater appreciation of beautiful things. I love to delve into the weave archives in the Shetland Museum to see how people have used the colours around them to make wonderful cloth. I love to see the photographs of how wool was spun by hand, and how people made rugs and clothes, cloth and yarn. I think that lives are made better by creating lovely things and that people cannot survive without that inate desire to find beauty in the most unexpected places. So, long live the islands and thank you Thomas Urquhart for getting me thinking of our own small contribution to happiness! Thank goodness there are still places where people can create and make, be inspired and live and work where so many have lived and worked before.

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