Across the peacock sea where the waves lunge into the heavens like waterfowl slung toward the cirraform clouds, our skiff, the Hoy Lass, skims over the glass deeps west of the Isle of Mull, among the Treshnish Isles. The seas have risen, have cut off these tiny isles from one another, like sailors buried in sand to their necks, watching the tide roll in, though they hold hands beneath the surface. Our captain captures a floating pier, some prop from the movie Waterworld, and delivers us to the uninhabited isle of Lunga. The names of all these islands are the jetsam of distant Vikings. The wind rocks our bridge to Lunga and I wonder what lagan awaits me.
I pick my way across sharp, volcanic rock toward the sound of mewling seal pups. They wallow on a bed of tumbled stones while their parents bob in the water with baleful stares. The boat has left me to wander around the islet; I see blackhouses and the foundation stones of a ruined village, stone obituaries yielding only the shortest story. The Lungans had fled, probably back to Ulva Ferry, to the mainland, where thriving required less alchemy than scratching a living from stone. I sense treasure here that I will never have the time to find. The Hoy Lass motors from the horizon. It’s better this way.