Hello dear readers and welcome to the March issue of the Voice for Arran. It is one of the stranger times in which I have come to write this editorial, and my efforts to keep my grief for the people in Ukraine, and feelings of existential threat, from becoming overwhelming do not feel at all solid. What seems an unimaginable state of affairs only a week ago, appears now to have become a shocking reality. Perhaps in situations like this, there is not much we can do but stay present with the simple but maybe most meaningful things in front of us – the warmth of the early spring sun, the sound of birds chattering, and the tread of earth underfoot when out walking.

We can also help in a more practical way – some local residents have set up a group called Arran for Ukraine and they are collecting and organising donations to be sent to Eastern Europe. In the information piece ‘Arran help for Ukraine’ there is a list of items that are currently most needed and details are given on the drop off points around the island.

We have a full issue for you, with some lovely events planned for the coming month and other interesting pieces to read. With more and more Covid restrictions easing, life on the island is starting to buzz. There are concerts, talks and art workshops to go to, as well as seed swaps and a new mobile zero waste café opening. And in Brodick, Woodside Arran’s vending machine is also opening, an easy self-service facility giving people access to lots of fresh local produce grown in Kildonan.

The theme of Scotland’s Stories continues in this issue, with the second part of Jim Henderson’s history on Robert the Bruce, and the first instalment of Charles Currie’s recent talk to the Arran Saltire Society, on Malvina’s Grave and Ossian’s Arran. Growing up nearby and then later farming the land at Drumadoon, Currie gives an interesting archaeological account that merges into a fascinating mythical perspective of this feature of Arran’s “past that has been passed down, mainly by word of mouth through bards and poets.”

Through another medium, we have a story of contemporary Arran life in an interview with Cicely Gill, to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March. Writer and poet, among many other things, Cicely talks to Alice Maxwell about moving to the island in the 1960s and her life here and in Glasgow since then. During the conversation they talk about the future of the planet. Cicely makes a frank observation that she doesn’t really see a way out of our mess, and with the current situation I am inclined to agree. But in her poem cited at the end of the article she reminds us that hope can be built in times of despair, courage instead of sorrow, and love in the place of anger. In these times this can feel like a huge task but I hope with each day the possibility, and so for peace in our world to resume, becomes stronger. Elsa