A bright sunshine-filled dawn this morning. Washing flapps on the line in the warmth. Blue skies reflected in sea. Beautiful. Sitting in the window, I watch as the rising wind whips the waves. Froth topped, riding into the shore. Beyond, the Mull slowly disappears under a bank of dark cloud. Shafts of rain highlighted against the sunshine. Then it arrives. An abrupt squall leads from rain into hailstones, bouncing off cars and pavements. The wind blows and onwards it moves, leaving behind soggy washing on the line, and mud-stirred water in the bay. Out came the sun. And so the cycle begins. This evening a walk is snatched between showers. Balanced against the breeze, I head towards the beach. Puddle-dodging along the way. Hail-spattered sand greets me, like the tracks of a strange creature. The waves are still riding high. And across the bay, another black mass approaches. Turning for home, the rainbow greets me. A fitting end to a rainbow day.
Thursday’s snow flurries turned into Friday’s blizzard. We woke to a white world, snow plastered against the window. A strange quiet. No electricity. No heating. No lights. Small camping stove out. Log fire stoked up. All day the snow continued to fall, hurling itself bad-temperedly at the ground. Tossed about by the wind, clawing at hair and face. A quick dash outside to post a letter became a struggle into the teeth of a blizzard. The path to the door and the pavement is shoveled three times. A losing battle. Inside the fire blazes, the only warmth in the house. Ice dripping from coat and hat. The kettle sings merrily on the hearth. Night draws in early. With candles lit and flames flickering the evening passes quickly. And so to bed, dressed for outside… hat and warm socks. Jumper and leggings. Duvet and three blankets. Hot water bottles top and bottom.
During the dark hours the snow still falls. A gentler dance, but just as popular. The morning light sees 10 foot drifts piled along the roads. The local farmers attach buckets to the tractors and plow the roads in the village. In the heart of the community we are safe. Cocooned from the outside world, an insulating layer of snow keeping us separate. Still no heat or light. The local rescue vehicle pops by, checking up on all. We clear the paths yet again, neighbours working together. Lunch has been cooking since dawn, balanced on the edge of the coal fire. Afterwards we emerge and playtime begins. A new member of the village appears, sitting on the bench. Soon the clouds draw in again, pregnant. Snow flurries occupy the afternoon, as the sun slowly moves across the sky. Darkness arrives and the candles are lit again. With my flickering light I climb the stairs and bury under the duvet.
Palm Sunday begins in sunshine, bringing longed for warmth into the room. A beautiful day. I go for a walk along the shore, sinking up to my knees in snow. Raid the garden for palm leaves, buried in a drift, and make palm crosses. No hope of church today – the road is still blocked to the east. By midday, the road north is finally opened. Electricity vans are seen, raising hopes. But lunch is stew slow-cooked by the open fire, and tea is toast and jam. The kettle still sings on the hearth at bedtime, and candles flicker on.
Dawn today brought relief. Blessed warmth. Sinking through to my bones. The power flicks on and off before staying on. The main wires to the village are still down, but a lorry late last night brought generators. A day of restocking. The thaw has begun, for now.
Snuggled down under the duvet, I drift on a blanket of sound. Listening to the world around me as it settles into its nights sleep. A creak of a floorboard, relaxing after the pressures of the day. The clock in the bathroom ticks noisily. The hot water gurgles quietly in the pipes, and the radiators click with heat. A clatter as a bird lands on the roof – probably a seagull roosting on the chimney pot again. A gentle patter as the rain is blown on to the windows. The wind whistles round the house, buffeting the building. Even here, at the back of the house, the waves are audible as they rush in, pounding against the seawall. A boom more felt than heard. A constant accompaniment through today’s storm. I welcome the familiar symphony. Aware that tomorrow I journey on again, heading north. Bags packed and ready to go, waiting impatiently in the corner of the room. Warm and cosy, hot water bottle at my feet. Lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea.
NB I’m off up north for a few days, wind and weather permitting, so a break from blogging for a wee while. No wifi or web-access where I’m going, so forgive me if I don’t respond to any comments straight away 🙂
High tide and gales last night. Doors and windows rattled, and the whole house shook with the power of the sea hitting the seawall. This morning the windows are coated with salt spray, blurring the edges of the world. Brilliant sunshine shines over the bay, highlighting the wave tops as they gallop shore-wards. We walk balanced on the edge of the wind. Even as we approach the strand, the tempest continues to whip the water, creating a bubbling mass. On the beach, a cappuccino has been washed up. Masses of coffee-coloured foam covers the sand. With the gusts, it rises and swells, jelly-like on the shore. I step in and sink into the softness, walking through a bubble bath. My boots disappear beneath the suds. Laughter peels across the beach, carried home on the breeze.
The boom of the tide woke me early today. Steel grey ocean, white banners flying on the wind. Waves rushing in, knights riding to battle. The seawall vibrates with their impact. A loud clash of water and stone. Spray splashes up and over, soaking the road. The wind is building again outside as I write this. Another rough night ahead. Lucia’s light will be twice welcome in the morning.
Wind buffets the car, pushing against me. Rain sweeps in furiously, pelting the windows. Ahead, the stream has over-spilled on to the road. I plough onwards. Great spumes of water shoot up as I drive through. The lights of the lorry in front shine out in the mist, a guiding light. Windscreen wipers compete with the spray and the rain, going at full speed. The radio speaks of weather warnings and flooding. I know, I say. I’m in the middle of it! I turn up the music for company. The rivers are in full spate, muddy brown from the peat. A wild sea bashes the coast. Slowly the miles unwind. Gradually the storm is subdued. A pause from the drumming of the rain on the car roof. A break in the cloud. Almost there. Then peace. Safety. Rest. Shelter from the storm.
‘The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters. Psalm 29:3
The pause button is pressed. Stillness rolls over me. I stand by the quayside, senses alert. Bell-like chime of ropes against masts. Swoosh of tide as it sucks against the gravel. The waters of river and sea mingle before me. Raucous cries of the gulls, begging for food. The dredger is quiet, no longer gulping its way along the riverbed. A small outboard putters by, a man in bright yellow at the helm. Above, the clouds darken. Storm-light paints the colours bright. The rising breeze brings salt spray to my lips, and pink to my cheeks. Boatmen call out to each other, and the pause is broken. Life plays on. The solace lingers, a balm to my soul