Thursday, 11 February 2010

Beach Casting

Image Left: Fishing on Balfour Bay
Tuesday 9th February
Beach casting

The island’s central valley is soaking up the fragile warmth of the winter sun. I descend from the ridge carrying my youngest son in his sling and swinging a fishing rod like an oversized gentleman’s cane. Beneath the granite walls the breeze has been hushed, it passes high overhead and for a moment I wonder if I haven’t stepped into some alternate place, an island within an island. Eventually the valley bottoms out into a wide bog cut with drains. Thick layers of peat topped with heather have infilled the spaces around the granite monoliths which seem to rise like leviathans from a becalmed ocean. The land climbs a little to meet the sands of Balfour Bay, which have been pushed up into a half dune by the prevailing winds.

I slouch through the soft sand before crossing the small stream that winds itself through the bay. The sun is almost at twelve o’clock leaving little in the way of shelter on the wide pan of sand. Once again the bay has been remodelled by the ocean, the sands have shifted and the pitch of the beach has increased dramatically, forcing the waves to pound as they break and explode over the sand.

I tell myself that I haven’t come to fish and then make a long cast out into turquoise depths. The fishing line makes a graceful arc through the sunlight, spooling out the memory of its tightness on reel in loose coils. I wind in making the lure dance unseen beneath the waves and then move on casting again and again until I have worked my way to the far side of the bay, the surf erasing my footprints as I go. Finley wakes and I stand the rod up amongst the rocks and find a place to sit, we watch the waves break, before a spinning lens cap draws his attention away. Two summers ago I swam here through a vast shoal of small fry, a shoal that filled the distance like snow flakes in a blizzard that had stalled. Today, summer or at least the idea of it feels tangible and I return to the surf casting again in the hopes of snagging a season.

Later as we leave the beach an anomaly in the acoustics of the bay carries the immediacy of a wave as it thuds into the sand. I turn around expecting to catch the backwash of some monstrous ninth wave but find no evidence in the distant rippling foam.

Image below: Lonely Cloud, at Balfour Bay

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