The phone-call leads to a dash across the hills, then a rapid drive down into the next valley. The roads are not pleasant, but passable. Onwards to Aberdeen. Playing the waiting game for news, I head down to the sea. The waves are whipping up and over the seafront, and the rain hits with stinging force. Further out, the ships are queueing to come into port, hoping for a safe haven against the coming storm.
An escape to the seaside today. A hospital visit combined with a walk on the promenade. The tide is full in, and the wind whipping the waves, so that they come rolling in with a crash and a thud, sea-spray reaching up and over. The icy rain grips my breath, and freezes my nose. On the embankment, a flock of dunlins dances in and out of the incoming tide, seeking sustenance, puffed up against the cold. I huddle further into my coat as I stride along, trying to outpace the worst of the weather. I pause and turn to face the incoming tide, arms outstretched, balanced on the wind. Aware of the power pent-up within. Closing my eyes, I stretch hearing and sensation until I am only aware of the boom of the tide, the lash of the wind, and the creeling of the gulls overhead. Time passes, until with a final nod to the tide, I must move on.
In the lunar drought
The molluscs retreat to the clefts
Nooks and crannies in the rocks
Banded together against a common enemy
Until the moon releases her grip
And the life-giving tide floods in.
The wind is behind the tide today. It rises up the beach, riding high onto the shore. Seaweed tumbles in on the waves, rolling into large caterpillars along the water’s edge. A flock of dunlin perch, absorbed in rummaging for the next tasty morsel. Slowly I move closer. And closer. Timing my steps to the crash of the sea. Grandmothers footsteps writ large. A sudden move and off they go. Flashes of black and white, curved scimitars skimming their way along the strand.
For more info on dunlin, check out this link. Lovely little birds.
The recent rain has filled the burn
The small trickle of summer
Now a rush of water
Heading out to water the sea.
I’m told the peat in the water round here makes for excellent scotch whisky. The local distillery seems to be thriving!
I wake with a mind full of angels
Of white feathers and halos
And of more.
Swords and fire
Messages from heaven
I rise, mind still buzzing
Glance out the window
Watch in wonder
As three swans gracefully swim past
Floating serenely on the sea
White feathers gleaming in the sunlight
Heads dipping in among the waves
This year’s cygnet protected
With a fierce love
I watch and wonder
What message God will send
By his angels
This Michaelmas tide.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11
When I was sixteen
We moved to a place
With views of mountains and fields
With estuary and sand dunes
Where you could paddle
Along the narrow inlets
At low tide
And watch the fish dart ahead
Flashes of silver in the sunlight
And feel the flicker of flatfish
Disturbed by your passage
As they skimmed the surface
of the sand
It was not always a safe place
For the tide could turn and rush in
Leaving you in a mad scramble
Towards the shore
But not for anything
Would I have missed
The touch of the fish
As they tickled my feet
A week spent away in Benderloch, just north of Oban. No email, no internet. Just the sea, the mountains, and the green… bringing back memories of my time near Porthmadog. I was up in Benderloch for Woolfeis, the gaelic wool festival. Great fun, of which more later.
Off down to the beach to play in the rock-pools. Bright green net at the ready. I stand, wriggling my toes, watching. Staring into the clear water. The seaweed gently drifts to and fro in the current. Or perhaps it’s something else. Slowly, gently, I lower the net into the water. Quickly scoop upwards, raising the contents up to the surface. A tiny shrimp stares up at me, paddling from side to side. Body almost translucent. I give the net a swirl and off it swims. Another scoop. A net full of seaweed and sand. Another pool, and the third try collects a small flatfish, darting around frantically. I gently tip it out and watch it hurry away. A red armed crab stares belligerently at me from under a rock, claws clacking. Maybe I’ll leave him alone. The tide starts to swirl its way in, eddying in. I head for home, fishing net over my shoulder, dripping seawater. A smile on my face.
Clouds sulk overhead, glowering down bad-temperedly. The sky is brooding, considering what to hurl next. Air clammy, almost tangible as I walk. The Isle of Man disappears under the mist and haze. Fishing boats are moored up in the harbour. Their registration marks speak of retreat far from home – Campbeltown, Greennock, Ullapool, distant places. Boats driven into the bay by the rolling bank of fog. After yesterday’s glorious sunshine, the weather is having a tantrum.