The boat churns a silent, parabolic wake as it leaves. Couples shoulder their packs and seek solace from each other, eat apples and crack open thermoses, and puzzle over their homely lives. Like some stoic horse abiding the flies clambering about its eyes, Staffa withstands the boatload of tourists tromping around its loamy plateau. Sunlight shatters on wind-frayed surf. There is a scent that makes me think of the absence of humans, and it unnerves me that it smells so right and pure. I know that beneath the opaque sea there are hidden worlds blossoming, but we cannot see them.
Time has nothing to latch on to out here, and so it ceases to matter, like our other creations. For centuries people have left their cities to visit Staffa, to peer in awe at nature’s handiwork from a rocking ship’s deck. Why are we shocked to find order in nature? Our arrogance is astounding; the scope of our fear is pathetic. By the time the boat returns I think some of us are changed. Retirees watch as families usher their children back onto the boat. I wait until I’ve left a warm handprint on one of Staffa’s hexagonal basalt pillars, until I’ve returned the favor.