Sunday, September 30, 2007

what a difference a day makes

I feel as if I've been to the ends of the earth, or back at the beginning of time, depending on your point of view. If only I could upload photographs I could show you, but due to the limitations of dial-up, you'll have to paint the pictures yourself, people. You're going to need a palette of sky blues and  grassy greens, plus that particular shade of mediterranean turquoise more commonly associated with warm seas, but frequently found on the NW coast of Scotland. A clear, glassy turquoise, then. Cerulean blue and a hint of cadmium yellow ought to produce the colour in question. Last of all, an ashy volcanic black and a crisp foaming white like snow-in-the-sea.

A day of sun and shadows chasing across the widest skies. Walking on high clifftops on the oldest rocks in Shetland. Black rabbits scurrying away from our approach, sea birds turning below in an endless, effortless gyre. Conversation, laughter, some exceedingly bad jokes ( mine ) inelegant clambering ( also mine ) over a series of stiles and fences and assorted obstacles, all the better to gaze in awe at the dramatic coastline where the sea has shaped the landscape with almost unimaginable power. 

I love walking on old volcanic rock - it's so grippy underfoot, offering no possibility of slippage for walkers of a nervous disposition. The sun came in and out, the wind-scythed grass looked like old velvet, the sea pounded and crashed below, occasionally booming like the one o'clock gun off the ramparts of Edinburgh castle. 

Sorry. What the hell is that doing here, pray? Swiftly relocate head from Princes Street back to Eshaness.

Walking further inland we found a vast gash in the land, plunging down to a beach linked to the distant sea by a long subterranean passage. As the tide came rushing along the passage you could feel the boom rising up underfoot. The sea has found a way into the very heart of the land here, insistently pounding at its deep subterranean spaces until they surrender. I saw the sea at its most benign today, but later, over soup and bacon rolls ( a very Scottish Sunday lunch) I saw a photograph of a winter version of the same view we were currently enjoying under a September sun. The sea of winter is a very different beast. A feral, pitiless sea. A dark grey monster seemingly unrelated to the foaming, swirling turquoise beauty outside. 

Shetland is doing its seductive best to capture my heart, and I am enchanted. Under this autumn's mellow sun, it's almost possible to forget that only a short time ago my world had shrunk down to a landscape carved out of various shades of deepest, forbidding presbyterian grey.  At each turn and twist in the ribbon of road that winds from Northmavine to Sunburgh, every glimpse of the sea is a pool of light in the darkening landscape. The last of this perfect day turns to a pink dusted dusk on Meal beach and as the light fades we return homeward to the evening's slow collapse into night.

What a difference a day makes. Thankyou for sharing it with me. 

1 comment:

Dan Morelle said...

beautifully written. was there with you.