Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Image left: A flautist brings in the Dusk at the Sanctuary
Location: Isle of Erraid, Mull
Sunday 18th October
The sun, sea and wind have scorched my already over-sensitive eyes; I retreat under a hat pulling it down to seal my blindness. A reaction to a hand cream has brought me a temporary secession from the visible world, so I hang up my eyes and enjoy the painlessness of the dark while strolling arm in arm with my wife over the sand. We are walking back from the far end of the Narrows* and I am measuring steps out against my visual memory. Already the white noise of breaking waves has begun to fade to be replaced with the compression of sand under my footfall. Without clues to my position I loose faith and peek out from beneath the hat. Three hooded crows pick amongst the wind scattered debris of the beach; when I close my eyes again they are gone and I am back with crunch, crunch beneath my feet. Today the crows only exist is the visual world, their crawks and scratchings have been carried away on the breeze. I wonder if the crows could blank me out similarly; just as I have my world I suspect they too enjoy their own.
Slightly ahead of me and to my left I hear the clap of thousand tiny hands applauding the wind and remember the line, “willows whiten aspens quiver”** . My eyes confirm the words of the poet, the cliff faces like football terraces hold a swaying crowd of yellow gloved aspens. In the spring I greet even the smallest bunch of daffodils by reciting to myself the opening verse of Wordsworth’s most popular work. Just as Adam or Karl Linnaeus got to name everything so too the poets own my emotional responses. The call of a buzzard brings me back as it echoes between opposing rock faces. A visitor to the island who had worked in the film industry told me this was the standard sound used to accompany shots of wilderness. I imagine all that it is to be wilderness, all that it has meant to those who new of it, who lived within and without and then see the distillation of that intangible vastness to an image of mountain and the call of a hawk. I suppose no one has the whole bible as a bumper sticker, just the sign of a cross or a fish. So I have become a blind man wandering in the wilderness with half remembered poems and snatched conversation with which to build my world.
* a narrow stretch of sand that separates the tidal island of Erraid from Mull
** taken from The Lady Of Sharlott, Tennyson