Thursday, 3 January 2008
Another dead whale comes ashore in the Hebrides. This one came to rest on the beach at the foot of a pals croft. A juvenile sperm whale, some 20-24ft in length, probably around 15-20 tons, with a tear along the last quarter of it's torso, exposing the intestinal tract. It also had extensive body scarring, possibly due to the rocks rather than pelagic brawling or marine fishery net entrapment. This male must have only recently, in terms of a possible 80 year life span, left the nursery to venture the planets oceans in solitude.
It's always better to come across them alive, diving & breaching - always sadder when it comes down to recording any distinct markings, looking for a WRP tag & reporting it in as deceased. But natures natural cycle of life, is inclusive of death, discerning of weakness, strength & progression, like it or not.

As children we held a simplistic & inquisitive fascination with dead things. We would walk the burns, waist deep until the source, ham & marmalade sangwies above our heads, & examine all creatures, dead fish, dead polecats, dead woozles, seals, gulls & once, a whale carcass...
Put yer hand in its fanny!
That's no it's fanny, that's it's hole to breathe with..
So it's got teeth, put yer hand in...dare ya
Nobody did it. It was stupid. Nobody wanted to lose a hand. We put sticks in instead. To test it.
I remember its opaque eye being as large as my fist. I wanted to dig it out & keep it, but just as you learn that taking the goldfish out it's bowl & giving it hot water to swim around in, is not good, no matter the intention, I realized that the eye would not, overall, make an impressive marble ala jewel to present on the school playground. It had confused me for a moment & I'd found myself saddened at the giant carcass, yet wanting to climb inside it's mouth & explore. To dare it to eat me. I'd have died a hero. Jonah. I'd have been spat out on Barra & had to get home on my own. Yet, probably, to also impress the girl from the next village who was, in her flowered dress & wellies, also present at the gathering. As children living inside the land we were often coldly matter of fact about the birth & extinction of animals, just as summer meant playing out into the dark & rolling in smelling of soil & wood smoke, winter meant no leaves & long yarns, turning turf by the fireside wrapped in towels, with clattering teeth. Each winter brings death. Each year is a new life. One without the other? That's a dessert.

posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 15:18:00 |

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