Monday, 22 June 2009
Life's A Beach
We are on the Isle of Lewis and we had driven along the B895 until it ran out and became what is known as The Bridge To Nowhere. One minute it's a road, then it's a bumpy track, then it's a bumpy track with grass growing on it and sheep grazing. We looked down on cliffs, tried to identify sea birds (there will be a test at some point), watched gulls and gannets diving into the deep turquoise sea. (I need to find some alternative words for turquoise because if am to write about the outer Hebrides it will get worn out). We wondered at the chunks of quartz embedded in the rocks and where does all the water come from to form a waterfall? I guess all this peat and moss is one giant sponge which gradually wrings out its moisture which then trickles to meet the other trickles until they gush and tumble over the rocks.
And that is when I thought, what a perfect way to occupy ourselves right now. Or any time really. We are free to wonder at the incredible beauty and dignity of this place. We are breathing the sweet-smelling air, walking on beaches and hillsides, dressing for rain AND sunshine and wowing childlike at the resulting rainbows.
These islands, I have discovered, are where rainbows are made. Often there is rain or mist with sunshine. You can see a whole rainbow from end to end, which is pretty amazing. You can be underneath a rainbow. You can see its ends disappearing into the grass. Until just a few years ago I had lived most of my life in London where rainbows just peeped above the rooftops, here I have been enveloped by them.
Then there is that turquoise sea. (I looked it up in the thesaurus, no joy, and blue-green simply doesn't cut it). I love being close to the coast anyway. On this trip we have followed a lot of coastline and, if we had needed to visit a more inland area we would soon get a yearning for the salty air and make a beeline back to the sea. What I usually find so invigorating is splashing, crashing waves, the air and the breezes and winds which blow into your face and mess up your hair. One campsite warden in Cornwall told me, "Every day is a bad hair day round here."
I like sand, pebbles, cliffs, seaweed, shells, lighthouses, deckchairs, piers, random detritus, joggers, dogs endlessly fetching a thrown ball.
Best of all, I like a deserted beach with crystal clear sea and talc-soft sand. Welcome to the Outer Hebrides. I've mentioned rainbows, well turquoise was created here too. The colour of the sea is psychedelic. It has this wonderful uplifting effect. Your eyes want to soak it up, your chest expands and your lungs want to breathe it in. No photograph can capture it, no words conjure it. It cannot be imagined.
I like it. I like it a lot.