Miss, I saw you capsize in your canoe!

18th July 1997 at 01:00
Miss, look oot the windae, it's pissin' wi' rain an' Kevin's chucked his folder oot the windae."


"Aw, Miss, dinnae shout!"

I console myself . . . The rivers will be running this weekend.

My romantic streak drew me to the island. Now I look out of the window to hills that are scraped down to bare rock, and so much water that I fear we'll sink if a bath overflows.

"Miss, please Miss, look out the window, the water's jumping out the puddles. "

I have my own version of the Beaufort scale: * Surf's up but it's windy. Sheep are huddling behind the rocks.

* Surf's up but it's too windy. Impossible to lift boat onto roof.

* Surf's up but it's far too bloody windy. Water is jumping out of the puddles.

During the night, the eye of the storm approaches. No one else is surfing today. They're either busy or they're going for a "proper paddle" as they put it.

Today I go solo. There's a new boat to play with. I stuff my face, nervously, on the way to the beach, and jump about like a wind-up toy on the machair.

This local play spot is an endless sweep of white sand backed by high, grassy dunes. Occasionally, someone walks on the beach - but not today. My only companions are the cows chewing lazily on the machair.

Small, steep waves roll onto the white sand, and already the reassuring rhythm of the break is calming me. The sky is as watery as the sea and the sun is fuzzy, like looking at a peach underwater.

I find that I can fly over the break in my new boat. Only I land with an ungraceful thump on the back of the wave.

"Yahoo!" I strip the willow, spinning and running before the wave. The reel is rhythmic and infectious. Rain pitter-patters on the surface, the break crashes, the foam hisses and the sand whistles lightly, like the wind. A tractor throbs on the machair.

My solo's over, it was a bit clumsy today. There's no flow to my choreography. It's haphazard. The water is now collecting behind my nose. I wonder about the physiology of an adrenalin junky.

It's Monday morning. "Miss, please Miss, I saw you in your canoe when I was on the machair with the tractor. And Miss, you capsized!"

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