Friday, 5 December 2008
Midway between Skye & Harris, 7am

Now we are free, you & me - Lisa Gerrard

It's that silent time, every tiny sound seemingly amplified & as you head out of the shadowed & claustrophobic waters of Loch Dunvegan, the Uists appear in distant mist as if a reincarnation of Tír na nÓg. Saying goodbye to dark kelp saturated waters & clanking listless ships of spinnaker & rigging you break ahead of the Galtrigill headland & arc over for Grimsay & Lochmaddy, rhythmic strokes on a millpond sea enjoying the slingshot of open expanse. Like a child out of the school gates, your pace picks up, your ability for play, remembers what it is to be unfettered - your enthusiasm overflows.

Midway you stop for a blether with Lachy, pot-hauling, working dawn creels under fading red & green navigation lights & look back at the tabletops & climb onto the wheelhouse roof for a panorama shot of heaven on earth. Waving an arm in the air, as a gesture of goodbye you continue, & indeed, Lachy in his fashion, gestures back. You look back to see him silhouetted & drifting & gain a porpoise escort; & slipping silver bug eyes down over the tuiliq you roll face to face with your graceful escort, inside a dance of mutual marine ballet. The moon is ghost like over your shoulder, the cold seas releasing steam each time you surface, the sun vying for it's place in the morning breath. Leviathan above leviathan & leviathan below.

You're the skipper of your own destiny. You cut & weave through Cannish, & now it's up to Bernaray, an outside drag the long way round. Some entertaining swell & a hard cut for Taransay... A clan of Skuas take low level flying into new boundaries across your bow & you count each landmark ...Scolpaig ...Spuir... Copaigh... Braigh Mor... West Loch Roag... all scattered with remote reeks of white unpopulated sands & soaring high black edges. You feel as though you command legions, your mount, a slim black knife as loyal as any collie that looked to you for the next instruction. The clear dawn skies are filling with storm as you reach the haven inland stretches of sea loch & the seas are starting to awaken, the winds stir from slumber, but you do not fear, or doubt, moreover you wish you were caught midway in the raw fight, but by now your woolly feet are pointed at a fire hearth & your hands are wrapped around a bucket of hot sustenance, your knife buried point down in a log.
There is a drip on your nose & steam in your breath as you close your eyes & drift into the sound of squalling rain beating down on the window like thrown rice grains. You're huddled in for the night with lined & creased faces of heros you trust. Faces that never make the news, nor care for it.. Somebody puts on Davy Spillane & the Atlantic Bridge & the night becomes a foregone jolly. A single jumping light in the dark & the wild.

The great non-event of Christmas will be here soon & I'll be in a bothy somewhere, or on a high ridge away from the chimneys & lights, solitary & in extradition from the gifted huddled & warm. Rolling into a fold, skin leaking dram, kayak flung across an empty reek of shore. Being surplus to requirement carries a stench decades old, but that's the world, the familiar odour & without adieu, you keep on keeping on, dragging your tail in the sea, because if you stopped, you'd be pointless, expended.

We reluctant Gladiators, we forward Minch Hunters - is there a better solo journey on earth, than when half the world is asleep, fidgeting in its angst?

What a year we have seen, the deaths of loved ones & friends, new births, storms & peace & war afar. One of my highlights was not to do with kayaking in any land that wraps the sea around its edges like a blanket, but to fill an ordinary shoe box with gold, red & coloured leaves of all sizes, dry them & tie it all with rough string, for my wee Dundonian pal MayLee. She left these shores long ago to train, successfully, as a rescue diver in Turkey. She swam through a sea of shit get there, & I'm so very proud of her. I put a simple note on the box saying Throw Me - xx. I did this simply because I didn't want her to miss out on Autumn & from my heart, wanted her to have one of her own.
One scented with the Highland woodlands.

Not all gifts are gold, but born of understanding your companions. In such a house, geography is an aside & should we forget such trust, we are become dust - emptied out & wretched vessels. Should we forget to write as bards & warriors, we are mere recital. For now, I will remain a lone Minch hunter. These satellites of friends in constant orbit, can never deter the search for everything that has already found me.
One day, I will be gone from this living world & miss it in its entirety, but like the man said ...not yet.

Not yet.

The landfall sands between Cnip & Bhaltos

Anol shalom Miss Mulholland...anol shalomť

posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 15:45:00 |

1 Retorts:

At 8 December 2008 at 19:35, Blogger Douglas Wilcox

Si, I just love your "Autumn in a box"!