Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Commingston Lady (Morey Coast)


Wednesday September 19, 2007:

At last the sky had cleared. It was a lovely sunny Scottish September day. The caves were calling me.

Commingston’s worn sandstone cliffs had been moulded by the persistent pounding of the sea into great clefts and caves. The headland, criss-crossed by trickling streams and meandering paths, was thick with gorse and brambles.

We found a path of sorts, darting down the broken cliff face it shared with a small stream. My companion led me carefully down the slippery cliff, my feet stepping into his footsteps, his hands steadying me on the wet rocks. And so, we eased our way between great yawning gaps, down under a ragged sandstone arch, down to the rocks at the edge of the sea.

As though thick grainy honey had been poured from the skies, the rocks lay undulating and flowing. The carved curves of a never-ending great recumbent figure, beautiful, smooth and soft lay there at the bottom of the cliff. I sank down against the weather-smoothed warm cliff face to rest.

Sandstone rocks, their shapes organic and balanced, littered the water’s edge. The cliff jutted out to our left preventing our getting to the caves I had so long to visit. I sat and stroked the sandstone beneath me, mesmerised by its gentle flowing structure. Reaching down, I searched through the jumble of rocks until my fingers found a beautiful stone, a palm-sized sandstone egg, perfect in its symmetry, its rough surface transferring tiny grains of sand to my skin as I stroked it.

The sea slowly edged towards us. Our rocks were below the high tide line and it was prudent to soon consider moving. WE stepped carefully across the sea-smoothed rocks to a triangle of rough grass, edged by great flat grey slabs. Here, we spread our blanket and I lay down in the warm sunshine whilst my companion climbed the flat rocks out towards the sea.

The mournful sound of the tin whistle danced on the breeze running across the beach. Sea-gulls keened. I lay and watched the figure moving down the cliff path towards me. She was tall and statuesque, her golden skin glowing in the morning light, her long red hair dancing in the sea-breeze.

She strode down over rocks, and pushed through the water, finally plunging into its shining waves when they reached her waist. She struck out strongly, her crawl easily cleaving a way through the moving waves.

When she was just a few feet away from me, I moved forward and down off my rock, diving smoothly into the sea to join her. Together we swam out to sea, far out until the land was just a soft line in the distance. When the sun moved across the sky, we would return.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, it was the same. WE did not need to speak. We only swam, keeping pace with each other, united by the caressing water’s embrace.

In time, my pups would watch for her, slipping smoothly into the water when she came, swimming with her out to sea and back again each day. And stars moved and my pups and their pups swam with her and so on as the world turned round.

In time she grew stiff and bent. It became harder and harder for her to swim out. There came a day when she came to the water’s edge but did not stride in. On this day, she lay down at the bottom of the cliff and let the water wash over her.

The watching seal, heavy with unborn pups, saw this and decided to go to her. She dove through the waters and climbed heavily out onto the lady’s great curving belly. Here the seal sheltered and in time, brought forward her pups, who curled to sleep, warm and safe in the hollows and rising contours of the lady’s still body.

And the years passed. The water licked at the lady, smoothing out her curves until she melded with the cliff. Travellers climbed down from the gashed rocks with some difficulty and were supported to walk to safety on her dry and strong curves.

My companion plonked himself down next to me. I rolled over and sat up. I reached into my rucksack for the sandstone egg and gently stroked it with my fingers, giving silent thanks to the beauty of this place.

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