An Island in the Rain

L muses on July in her love note to the sea and the sublime.

___________________

I’ve been feeling melancholy this July—

yet also euphoric.

The anticipation of change as autumn clambers closer is invigorating me, I think, but it dulls all within the interim.

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I climbed an island in the pouring rain this week.

As we pulled up to the beach car park the heavens opened and dumped a torrent upon us.

The tide was out. I walked across the sodden sand to the lush green rock that stands 157ft tall just off the Devon coastline, feeling like a pilgrim returning to a holy place. A few hours earlier or later, and I would be deep underwater right now.

We clambered up the side of the island, slipping occasionally on the boggy grass and streams of mud, through overgrown pathways with nettles and thistles leaning over into the tracks. My sister climbed behind me, barefoot, mud between her toes.

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We lept from stone to stone, ridge to ridge, roaming perilously close to the craggy edge as the ground receded beside us with a childlike recklessness and glee,

freespirited, soaked through, happy.

[A feeling of freedom like this is hard to find beyond childhood]

At the summit is a crumbling old chapel with four walls and no roof, and a 360-degree view of the ocean. It is otherworldly. It is ethereal and sublime and fresh. The jagged cliff face on all sides shines slick and sharp in the rain, grown over with soft moss bulging greenly and plumply. The horizon is engulfed in sea mist—I am looking out into nothingness. A few steps away, at foot- and eye-level there is nothing. 157ft below, there is the green murky sea and a smattering of rocks, but right in front of me is a blank white expanse of nothing. Nothing, and everything, is behind that mist. It was like standing at the precipice of my mind, a literal, physical metaphor for the point my life has reached; on the cusp of something exciting, invigorating, risky, and unknown.

***

I have been drawn to the sea more and more as my imminent departure from it beckons. The sea is some kind of hypnosis for me, I think. It’s at once intensely nostalgic, mesmerisingly beautiful, overwhelmingly vast, and expansive. The sea is unfathomable and insurmountable. So many of my warmest memories are bound up in the curls of the waves and the soft murmur of the tide; the temptation of the impossible horizon teases its future with me.

Like an unrequited lover, it has no feeling or care for those who adore it, it goes on as it pleases, yet I cannot let it go or stop myself from plunging right in.

I love the ocean in all of her moods.

Tempestuous, glassy-smooth, steely grey, clear blue

Unpredictable and ruthless.

Everything I aspire to.

***

As I stood at the summit of that island, wind whipping strands of hair into my face and rain running down my legs and into my boots, the sea smashing itself repeatedly into thousands of pieces against the coastline and the horizon faintly emerging from the storm, I thought, serenely, “I could die here quite happily”.

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