the summer

Assynt seen from the Minch

The summer was blue; blue and spreading, blue and rising, blue and stretching.

The summer slid out onto the sea, gliding through it, when the sea was silken; riding upon it, when the waves swelled cut and grey.

Summer streamed out and lands rose from the sides of it, low and lumpy, tall and hard. We sailed among their fingers, which reached out, raking the waters and holding them down like huge paws of an old stone beast, and we clambered out on their rocky knuckles, stumbling among the feathered grass and fallen walls.

Some lands greeted us with longer arms, which curved around and drew us in gently, with welcoming hills and pale beaches shining like soft promises through the thin drizzle; and when we rowed ashore, the sun flooded us and myriad wildflowers danced behind the sand in the multi-coloured machairs which are the true meadows of heaven.

One group of islands was made of walls – high columns, stacked with seabirds, which stood in a sheltering arc around us, and we spent the night there listening to their story, enchanted.

The summer was blue the day we left the spell of those islands and sailed back over the Minch to the northern mainland. The sun rose early and the wind blew us steadily east until, close to the coast, it dropped beneath the glassy water – and there we were with all the mountains of Assynt arrayed around us – solitaires, circling – rugged and red.

We watched and waited, in the blue bloomed sky, in the pure afternoon, floating on our own reflection, until eventually a small breeze arose and, nudging our sails, blew us quietly home.

It was slow, was fair, our passage through the summer: araf, teg.

Ara’ Deg.

Easy does it, she said.

The Minch, Scotland
14th August 2013