storm light

It’s amazing light. Storm light. Smoking yellow with a grey underglow, and moving moving moving. The seagulls are loving it – hanging whitely in the thick air above the masts and the jetty, wheeling down by the waves’ feet beyond the breakwater. The waves in the bay are whipping into whitecaps, and out past the entrance of the loch the horizon is foaming white and crashing higher than the islands that guard it. White! White! The sea’s frothing at the mouth and the sky’s whipping up a frenzy! Gates of rain are sweeping across the water, side to side, long grey curtains lashing.

The massive white fishing boat that trawled in here late last night now gleams in a stately manner out round the breakwater, and a small local rustbucket drifts in. What a night it was in the wild west wind! Hail thrashing against the portholes as the fronts moved in like horizontal waves, and all the boats creaking and straining at their chains and ropes. The harbour men were down in the afternoon, trussing us up fast to the cleats, and all night the masts clanked and the lines yanked and rattled, and the old heavy oak boat in front of us slapped the water and groaned. But this morning we are all still here in our floating dock cradles.

The wind has become more northerly though, and I could barely face against it just now, rounding the corner from the harbour, trying to reach the Lochinver Mission for a cup of tea after my run out to the headland. Walls of rain were smashing in across the bay and the wind was blasting the rain on the ground in sudden sheets towards me – it moved in wet flashes under my feet – like walking on lightning.

The Mission is in some shelter from the sea, however, and sitting inside with soaking thighs, a shining red face, and a cup of tea before me, I notice the trees outside are barely moving and – for a moment – a soft rainbow appears, glows, and vanishes.

But in my seaward ear I hear the wind still howling.

Lochinver, Assynt, Scotland
18th November 2013