In the autumn and winter – after storms have blown through – the beaches are covered in tangles of storm wrecked kelp. Tangles are mentioned in the ‘Road to the Isles’, a traditional Scottish song, which first appeared in print in 1917…
Sure, by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
And Lochaber I will go,
By heather tracks wi’ heaven in their wiles;
If it’s thinkin’ in your inner heart braggart’s in my step,
You’ve never smelt the tangle o’ the Isles.
Oh, the far Coolins are puttin’ love on me,
As step I wi’ my cromach to the Isles.
We’re waiting for the predicted storm. The sky is turning dark, the strengthening wind is whistling and moaning and the showers of rain, when they come, are more fierce. The sea appears to rise – as if suspended vertically – obscuring the horizon and filling the air with fine droplets of water. The beach has a desperate rawness as the sea pounds and drums on the sand and rocks.
Autumn on the island always reminds me of the ‘transformation’ scene in a theatre production. It’s that time of metamorphosis when the coastal scenery undergoes a visible, and often dramatic, change of colour, light and atmosphere. Days can be muted and grey or bright, vivid and sparkling. In the next few days high winds and strong currents are forecast – the beach below the cottage will be washed and stripped and we’ll see something of the rocky skeleton below the sandy surface.