We sailed not far from Easdale last summer. We were going to sail right in and anchor by the island but, as we drew out from Colonsay and glided along its east coast, clouds began to gather in the distance ahead and, by the time we reached Colonsay’s northern tip, the Firth of Lorn looked dark and ominous. The wind had moved round too and was bearing down upon us and the sun was shining in the west, so we changed course and sailed into the sunset instead.
This year we were again going to sail there but our boat was in the north and the winds were from the south, so instead I took a collection of cars, buses and ferries to arrive, crossing the final short stretch of sea in cold windy rain.
I came to visit friends and took shelter in their cosy cottage with a cup of tea until the rain eased off and we set off round the island with wellies and children, sliding over the slate-heaped beaches and exhilarating in the wild washing of the waves over the sharp serrated lines of rock.
A big mist was still hanging around the coast but bits of brightness were starting to seep through and, as the others trailed slowly round the path, I quickly climbed the lumpy slice of hill. The island from up here looked astonishing, a strange gouged-out darkness with whiteness and lights crashing all along its shattered shores. As the air gradually cleared, the whole cauldron of island-ringed water beyond stretched itself out – to Seil, Luing, Scarba, Jura, Islay, the Garvellachs, Colonsay, Mull. I let myself drift out to meet them, following their rising rims, slowly navigating them in my imagination and last summer’s memory.
I was in a gentle dream; but as I picked my way back down the hill and ran the thin path round the north of the island to catch up with the others, I was caught by the quarry pools. They were so deep, so still, so blue, they seemed to gather into them all the wide distance of the waters outside, and to concentrate all their colour. I stopped at one, then another, then another – the deepest blue of all. A fine drizzle soaked into my skin as I stood gazing down and in.
Eventually I pulled myself away and now I stand in a glowing pink evening at the back shore staring out over that island-rimmed horizon. The wind comes across the waters, breaking them in white froth on the dark slate at my feet, but still my eyes are in the deep blue quarry pool on the other side of the island where all the wet world is, secretly, hidden and held.
Easdale, Argyll, Scotland
7th July 2014