Ethereal blue light and tiny, tumbling sand grains retract in the vacuum of low tide. Water shadows stretch behind detritus strewn along the otherwise smooth beach at Machir Bay on Islay’s west coast. Ghosts rush past my eyes and nose trailing salty tendrils. The Atlantic heaves itself tirelessly onto the sandy shelf, bubbling and frothing as it claws away the space between us. Dark earth revolts in the distance, fighting both sea and sky in a timeless melee. Something stirs in me like a lion pacing behind the bars of its cage. And yet, I know my footprints will disappear soon after I depart from Machir Bay.
Later, in the Port Charlotte Hotel and then at Ballivicar Farm, this moment replays in my mind: the blurry, darkened background, the static of salt and sand, and the fearfully alluring invitation to the unknown sea. The sands disappear in the surf. Bottles, seaweed, and all the little treasures churned up from the belly of the ocean pitch starkly against the beach like forgotten childrens’ toys poking through thawing spring snow. The sea soon returns with its amnesic blanket. Will I remember these moments between the tides, I wonder on the hike back to the car, as I clutch a chunk of broken bottle frosted and made beautiful by the sea.