Even though still early in the morning the wind was strong and high, the day was already showing itself to be good drying weather. Hanging out the washing each damp item of clothing felt icy between my hands, pushing my arms down inside knotted sleeves the chill was painful against my bare skin. The temperature had certainly dropped. Willing for the ordeal to be over I resorted to clapping my hands together with warming exuberance. This went on for quite sometime and still the bottom of the washing basket could not be seen. Carrying on, picking item after item of vests and lone socks I pegged them out on the line in the age old fashion, like so many mother gone before me. I thought to myself how no one had mentioned to me how many socks I would wash and sort when I was expecting my first child. How the years to follow would be consumed by washing and the basket would rise like a bowl of breeding yeast. I’d read plenty of information on the right baby items to buy, the majority of them useless and totally unnecessary. Little babies need so little really and I laughed out loud as images of old past through my mind. Now, if I were to be asked I would tell any expecting mother to buy the biggest washer and dryer they could buy, it would of stood me in better stead I think.
The wind rolling in waves and gusts picked up the washing to a horizontal tilt sending the line way above my head. Jumping, I managed to clasp it, pulling it back down to eye level in order to carry on pegging. I wondered if I were to hold on with both hands, if it would lift me up and give me a good windy billow in the wind. Airing out the tiredness that had recently overcome me. Would it flap me in the breeze billowing like that of a white washed ships sail? Until renewed and fresher I was ready to sail my course once again. With the nipping of the wind the curve of my cheeks were becoming raw now and the tops of my ears were pinched pink, bordering on the the side of numbness. ‘Ah! Finished!’ I proclaimed just as a final gust of wind participating in my victory, caught the washing basket and sent it flying over the length of the garden. ‘I’m not playing, I’m too darn cold’ I reprimanded. ‘You play on your own wind, I’ll get the basket later’. Clutching the last of the pegs I ran for the house and slammed the door behind me just in time. For the wind exploding into a sullen rage railed against the house looking for me. Enraged at my lack of play I left her mid tantrum, shutting her firmly out and left, abandoned on the other side.
As the heat of the summer months dripped away so did the tourists, until only a couple of unknown faces walked around. Only a few brave caravans and tents were left looking out onto the sea at Port Mor. No couples in love walked hand in hand along the main road of Port Charlotte on faintly painted evenings and no happy parties walked with children galloping ahead. Swinging bright neon buckets and spades in the early morning sun at the prospect of a days adventures. Only the wind and rain were left now. Both of whom I had befriended over my years in the Hebrides. I did however find them to be rather sullen and easily angered. Particularly temperamental, the friendship had the tendency to be rather one sided just to keep the peace and although I was grateful for their friendship I did find myself in a strange hospitality as I was always trying to keep them out the house. Though credit where credit is due I did try my best to entertain them from the window. When the loneliness of Hebridean days had bleed into weeks bleeding into months they had been there, rattling on the windows and pushing themselves under the kitchen lino. This jumbling of days wasn’t easy and would often result in a kind of frantic confusion. Where the mornings would run into the nights and as soon as I went to bed I would find myself waking up as if I’d never been asleep.
A tiredness would veil over me which hard to shake made me want to throw the duvet back over my head until the warmth and darkness drowned out the days reality. The tears would forever be close behind my lids and the dishes would stay by the side of the sink occasionally calling out that they were in fact still dirty. I hated those lulls of time. I like productivity in my own ordinary and mundane way. The lamps on, the baking tin full, a book on the go and the soup bubbling. Keep the home fires burning I would tell myself, but struggling to locate the fire lighters I would find the thing simply smoking. Infiltrating the living room like thick incense, leaving the smell of peat lingering well into the following day. I still struggle when the days bubble in my mind like freshly poured fizzy pop until running out of energy they become flat and bitter to taste.
A fine heavy mist lay over Saligo bay as a never ending dirt track wound its way out in front of me. I loved the name Saligo, it was the type of word that rolled around the tongue like a sweet liquor at Christmas time. A family of horses walked along side us and the sheep of which there were many, followed each other about like the blind leading the blind. WW2 bunkers lay abandoned, now only useful to the sheep as shelter against the Atlantic elements. These paired with the heavy mist gave a strange ghostly quality to the place. ‘Can you imagine being here in WW2 Chris? What a strange thing it must have been?’. I seemed to just be walking into nothingness, with no end or path to the bay becoming visible. ‘I don’t think this is the right way? Did you see not see a path Chris?’ as we carried on further and further along the track. Eventually we abandoned it to walk over the grass and onto the dunes. Sheep weaved in and out of our way until reaching the edge we looked down and onto the water. The wild Atlantic way opened up into a vast expanse, as the water labouring to greet me rushed over itself in a hurry creating huge barrels of white froth. The water was a jumbled blend of steely blue and peppermint green, spitting and spraying as she heaved and groaned against the edge. The air was heavy with the taste of salt and Elizabeth sat tight against my body scrunching her face against the chill. Noah’s hands were pink and his eyes watery, they would begin to dribble with the sheer cold soon staining his cheeks wet.
As the wind whipped my skirt around around my legs I felt as if I was standing on the edge of the world. So many times whilst living in the Hebrides I have felt that ‘edge of the world’ feeling. Looking out onto an horizon of eternity. Blue meeting blue, as the ocean and sky drain into each other. As if verging on the edge of myself, the ocean has called me back knowing I had no where else to go but the edges to which she was also bound. Both of us standing on the boarders of existence the edges of life unravelling around us. So often the edges of my mind have frayed and blown in the wind like washing on a line. Tattered and worn down like the coastal rock on which the Hebrides encircles its boundaries with. ‘We are not so different you and I’ she sings ‘Our edges are the same’
‘We wont make our way down Chris, Noah already needs thawing’ I noticed. We’ll just stand here another minute and then head back to the car’. I could of stood on that edge forever, if the duty of motherhood had not nipped at my heels. For the rough winds of September roared within my ears until seeping into my mind, swept up my thoughts giving the inside of my head a vigorous spring clean. A cottage on the far right lay under the looming mountain. To the left the land swung round to reveal a large bay of coastal rock that the sea was flinging herself up against. On a calm day with the tide out I imagined being able to walk along it, now the place looked dangerous, savage and wild. I found her more beautiful that way though and I hoped she knew it. A stone cottage sat at the top of the large curve though no light shone from its windows or puff of smoke from the chimney and I wondered if it were a holiday home. I hoped it wasn’t for it would be a shame if the place lay dormant in the winter. When the sea would sing at most splendid, with the sound of the wind joining her in symphony. The external chaos of the sea matched the internal disarray in my head and looking over to the sleeping giant jutting out, I felt the inside of my head empty out and tumble over the cliff. Turning back I marched on wards to the car, Noah trotting at my heels and the sheep believing I was somehow less blind than they following also.
To all our wild edges, faithfully from the Scottish Hebrides, Lucy