Island Blog – Alpha Beta and The Geese

I walk today, peaceful like. The wee track is even wee-er now after the rains have turned the bracken tips face down and dripping. Branches bow low creating a sort of trunnel for me to dip and duck through, the leftover drips cool down my neck. Sunshine catches diamonds like pearl painted finger nails glinting rainbows at me. I don’t mind getting wet. Although heavy (and, apparently dangerous) rainfall was prophesied, like many prophesies, it never came to bear and I risk setting off sans jacket, just free, a light cardy and walking trainer thingies that look like flippers but work just fine. After all, nobody is looking.

I just know that after this ‘dangerous’ rainfall and the subsequent hot hot of Father Sun, anything green is going to go crazy bonkers. The bracken, already over my head and, I am sure, burgeoning with bloodthirsty ticks, will soon turret the track. Bracken looks harmless enough but don’t read this book by its cover. It may look pretty with its green finger fronds and the way light can show through the forest it creates but underneath the ground it is a pernicious killer and will take over anything with hopeful shoots, stifling it until it breathes no more. Bracken is for Mordor not this lovely island, nor anywhere else for that matter. Just saying.

Me and the Popster walk to the shore, to the old pier where Alpha Beta slept. Perhaps she is in my mind once I heard that she featured on TV last evening with Gordon Buchanan. She, wonderful she, who safely transported so many people out into the ocean to find whales met with a very sad end. She took us to Minke whales, and on a really special occasion, Killer whale. Her body was strong, her engines pure and true. She had props all over the place for turning on a sixpence and for exiting danger quickquick. She carried hopeful souls on her back and never seemed to mind and she was as faithful as a collie. I stand beside the pier where, many years ago, she waited patiently for everyone to step aboard. It is a skeleton now, draped in dried kelp, blackened and hanging like witch hair. The breeze moves it a little and I can hear the crackle. The rocks are coppered with living kelp, a lie if you cared to walk across. You would sink. Or I would. Kelp looks so solid in such a mass. We move through a canopy of gorse and I remember how the old Sea Dog would cut and slash this now 8 ft high mass into submission. Cutting it down is good, he would puff, slashing and snapping the limbs. It will all grow stronger next year. It thinks me. It must be four years since he could walk never mind swing the slash-cut weapon without spinning into the brink. I stay with that remembering, holding the memories when both Alpha Beta and the Seadog were upright and strong, and I say to the skeleton pier, one the SD built, Thank you. You may look wind blown, wonky chops, and whitened by salt but I remember you strong and proud. I still see that in you. Thank you for your grace, your strength, your loyalty.

We sit on a flat rock having navigated the gorse forest. Pods are popping. I can hear them. They sound like a cap gun. It smiles me how life goes on going on with fierce determination. The sun is warm on my arms and back, my face. The Narrows sparkle, diamonds on the water which I think is just beginning to flow in again from who knows where. I ponder on the tidal flow, not just here but the one that circumnavigates the world. There are new stories coming in, I can smell them, those whispers of hope of pain of joy, all flooding in right here and right now. An otter pops up like a cork. He is fishing, I can see that. The fish in his grasp has no chance. He bites off its waggling head but the waggling goes on. He leans back, peaceful like, and floats while he eats the rest. Then he is off again, sleek, dark, fleeting, a gymnast. I watch him cross the Narrows in seconds where a few Greylags have landed for a splash. He threads through the group and they yell and flap at him. Returning to their bathing, once he is gone, I watch them lift water over their wings, bury their heads in the brine, lift their tails and then they begin to play. I know play and this is play. One hurtles at another, and another scoots off. Chase me, chase me…..

I can hear them still laughing as me and the popster wander home.