Thursday, 21 January 2010

Under Ice

Image above: Seal Paw In The Sand
Under ice
Sunday 10th January

Yesterday’s tracks remain undisturbed, overnight a sheet of ice has consigned the wanderings of the beach’s devotees to a museum exhibit, a world behind glass. I follow the prints of a rabbit to the grassy margins of the sand and lumber up over the turf to find the bleached skull of another. It seems that death stalks the land while the world waits under ice. There is always expectancy to be found in the drip of an icicle under the sun or the soft lapping of salt water at the ice. Already the wading birds have begun to think about territories, lapwings stride over the grass in ownership and take to air in its defence squawking at trespassers. I remember the plans I had made for a hawk’s nest box and wonder whether the return of spring will once again confirm me as a procrastinator.

Below, the triangle of a beach nicknamed the Little Caribbean stretches away to meet a constellation of rocky islets and outcrops. The sand occupies the white part of the spectrum, its crusted ice coating almost phosphorescing in its brilliance. The water sits easy in shallow lagoons thinning out the oceans depth of colour until it appears only tinted but dense like toughened glass. The sky touched by scattered cloud still holds to its nitrogen blue. Today vision is all elemental as if hues and subtlety have been banished and replaced with industrially applied colour; this is paint by numbers for the numerically challenged.

I walk on out to the islets and their accompanying shallows and find myself transfixed by the interplay of light each wavelet brings to the beach. But I am no casual observer, the refracted and the reflected sunlight only sparkles for me. If I move, the light moves with me and so like everyone I get my own personal sunbeam.

From over the wide expanse of beach death travels on the breeze and I follow, finding a claw half buried in sand and ice. It takes my eyes a few minutes to adjust and then comprehend my vision, at last an image emerges of a seal lying like a child at rest from making snow angels. This is white on white, bleached fur, seashell sand and a shroud of ice. I resist the urge to kneel and take the paw within my hands. The smell returns as the air eddies; the carcass has been punctured and emptied leaving the skin to tightened over its ribs like the canvas of a canoe, I move away.

Image below: Golden Plover, Preening

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