The Beast from the East is washing up roses; yellow roses, long-stemmed and fresh. They lie in front of me on the shingle shore, a bit battered but still intact, their damp petals closely furled and gently tinged with pink like cheeks flushed from the cold.

Where have they come from? I look around to the snow-covered hills behind and then back to the growing wildness of the sea ahead. It seems so improbably, to be standing here beneath all these white-capped waves and hills and find damp yellow petals at my feet, but here they are. I stare at them more closely. Their tender colour is vivid against the dark wet stones and, in this monochrome world, their presence makes everything else look even more black or white.

And I can’t decide which is whitest: the froth on the waves as they spill over, scalloping the shore, or the fresh snow lying in crystallised lines among the pebbles, or the smoothed fragments of quartz, or the plump breasts of the eiders paddling out into the wind, or the lean bellies of the herring gulls soaring up sideways in the stiff air, or the blanketing cloud pushing in briskly overhead, or the pure white disc of the sun within the cloud, sometimes dropping a cold platinum glint on the grey water, other times bestowing a soft sheen which rises on the slow westering swell before casting itself graciously on the shore.

I can’t decide and it doesn’t matter as I stand here before this shone water, before this powerful sea turning itself over with a glancing tenderness at my feet, softly smashing on the shingle like crumpled petals, like flung roses washed clean.

rosy-tinged yellow rose on wet pebbles with white surf receding behind

West Bay, Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland
28th February 2018