Thursday, 27 January 2011


Image Above: Bringing Home The Hazel.
Location: The Narrows, Erraid
\Hazel, 26th January 2011

The tide is ebbing and draining a rivulet from the sands of the narrows; the strip of sand that keeps us anchored to Mull. I wade through, shuffling my feet to avoid a bow wave topping my Wellingtons. Despite the expanse of sand this is a trench cut between faces of rock, it is here Erraid lays claim to its island status, emerging from the sand to present a toothy grin to its larger brother. The sea only makes good on the bargain for a few days a month when spring tides race to fill the gap. Between times it becomes a highway of sorts for cows, sheep, otters, deer and on rare occasions wild goats. I place my own prints into the wet cement and join the list of other stars.

As I walk my eyes follow the contours of the low cliffs, here stunted oaks, birch and aspens hide out from the herbivores. I am looking for hazel to make some low hurdles for the garden, but it is not until I am about to run out of island that I find a small stand of bushes above a rough hewn wall of boulders. The pruning saw slips easily through the thin sheath of life and bites into the bone whiteness of the wood. I cut three or four poles from each bush, trimming out the crown ends to release them from the tangle of other branches and then throw them to the sand. The cuts will sprout again and the limbs re-grow in profusion like the split brooms of the magician’s apprentice.

On the sand I bundle up the rods with the belt from my trousers, twisting it as a Spanish windlass to add tension. Lifting one end, it seems bearable but I am aware, looking back over the sand, that distance adds its own weight. I move off covering my tracks Indian style as the trailing branches scratch out my foot prints. Behind in the lagoon the seals have gathered to watch, extending their heads, clear of the water, as the strange half man half tree shrinks into the distance.

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