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the old croft house

While traveling down a road in Northern Scotland I came upon a shell of an old croft house. The roof rafters had long collapsed into the interior of the shell and tall grass grew up to the empty windows.

As I turned back to the road, I noticed an old man, his back bent from years of hard work, walking toward me. He carried a well-used peat spade that he was using as a staff. I waited for him to reach where I stood and asked him if he knew anything about the folks who once lived in the old croft.

His eyes brightened with the memory of his youth and thenm dulled a bit as he told me his sad story.

“i was nine years old when, the young family moved here. The father was a fisherman who kept his boat a wee bit down the road at the pier. The mother took cre of their two boys who were a year to two younger than me, and also washed and dried the laundry, kept the house, gathered the dried peat and sticks for the fire, raised a patch of vegetables, and cooked wonderful meals of which I was lucky enough to share with them on occasion.
One evening the fisherman failed to return home, and the next day his boat was found empty beached on one of the outlying islands. The villagers assummed he was washed overboard by a rouge wave and had perished at sea.
The mother tried to make a go of it without her man, but loneliness and hard work finally won out as one day she loaded what she could carry on her back and taking the two boys, one in each hand, left the village. We never saw nor heard from them again,”

The old man looked tired and ready to head home to his mid-day meal so I bid him good day and watched him make his slow progress down the road to the village by the sea. As I turned back to look at the house, the quiet was broken by aa gusst of wind and the call of a magpie.
The story has stayed with me to this very day and I still remember the shell of the old house as if i saw it just yesterday.

Where the old croft
was – tell me about it
ancient peat cutter