Wednesday, 3 June 2009

On The Street Where I Live

Image Left: The Island

Monday 1st June

On The Street Where I Live

I woke early to full sunshine and the thinnest of breezes. In the summer here, daylight begins about the time nightclubs are sending patrons home, darkness becomes a brief interlude in an endless summer day. My neighbour remarked yesterday that she could live another whole day after dinner, and I remembered I had a whole day to live before breakfast.

I met the small party on the street about half past six and we found coffee and a clear blue sky framed in the small panes of the kitchen window; we made our way down to the pier. I hauled on the mooring ropes breaking the inertia of the boat and the day in general. The engine sprang to life primed by the warmth of the sun and we idled out into the breeze of the sound. Ahead, Iona’s cliff faces hung like a wall in the distance and behind us Ben More crested out of a blue mountain haze. I felt a little uneasy about breaking through the quiet presence of the island and ocean with the rattle of hum of the engine at full throttle. We eventually turned towards Tinker’s Hole and found a small flotilla of yachts moored across the narrow gap, their masts glinting scimitar like against the horizon.

Overhead terns called as they flitted between the islets occasionally diving almost butterfly like to meet the water. Where the falling tide had exposed a long stretch of white sand on Easter Island, the striking patterns of male eider ducks jarred at my vision as they sat with their drab mates in the sun. We glided into seal bay finding a single grey seal hauled out on the rocks, he quickly dismounted and slipped back into the sea. I cut the engine and we drifted a little downwind of Seal island, the smell of seal’s breath still tainting the morning air. After a few minutes the seal reconsidered and returned to its perch lumbering out of water and the grace afforded by that medium. We sat hushed by the presence of the seal as if waiting on a guru for some words of wisdom, none were forth coming.

Our little boat trip was to give a couple long term guests a last look around the island and so far all the actors had willing taken to the stage. Leaving the seal, we cut back into the sound and visited Jimmy’s lagoon, a large sea trout bolted over the sand as we navigated through the monoliths. The tide was too low to afford the boat access to main lagoon. I took us out and hugging the opposite shore from the island made my way down to our jetty on Mull. I tied up and we stepped out to look back to the island, the summer sun was still lighting the face of the street, picking out the brightly coloured doors with a frame of shadow.

The distance hid any of the morning’s activities giving the place the look of a model village. My eye moved from the pier and sheds past the tractors and up the hill towards pier cottage and the byre. Above, the sanctuary topped the small wood and higher still the quarry and observatory. My eye took me back to the street and gardens, a perfectly formed miniature world that rested motionless in the morning sun.

When we finally returned to the island we found the world had woken, I handed the boat over to Phil and the children for the school run. The cows were already making their way back along the track their udders a little lighter after milking while their calves called from the front garden of number two. On the street two empty chairs, a laptop and a guitar looked to have been hastily abandoned by a unlicensed busker , while doorways held guests and residents that had come to look out over the bay at the wider world beyond.

Image above right: Street Life

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