These relentless storms may not be hitting the hardest out here, but they fair weary the soul. Dark clouds pass by swiftly, with tendrils of rain pushed along below them. Today it wasn’t rain, it was hard little balls of hail that stung the cheeks and felt like pinpricks through the trousers.
The loch is uninviting, steel grey and cold-looking, with the waves whipped into white horses. Hard to believe I was swimming in there just a week ago, but thus in the nature of nature. The swans find as sheltered a nook as it’s possible to find and bob on the water as white floats, head plunged deep, the gracility of the streamlined body meaning tail and neck-end indistinguishable. Family groups stick together, whoopers with their grey-tinted young, dabble in the shallows for the waterweeds that grow yearlong.
Herons are known for their stillness, their patience and yet there’s one that hunts just next to the culvert underneath the road that’s anything but. He’s susceptible to disturbance in the worst way. Flying up at the last moment, just when I pass him in the car, the wind catches his broad, long wings, and takes him until he regains mastery of flight with several less-than-controlled wingbeats. His long legs, through all this, dangle, forgotten, underneath. One hindrance too many.
One lone towel left forgotten on the line, pulled horizontally, snapping and whipping in the relentless wind. The blue stood out against the dull greys everywhere else, like a sepia picture with one item colourised. And the starlings assemble on the chimney stack of the rotting house, nipping in through the shingles to their overnight roost. There's no murmuration tonight, buffeted as they are as the gusts blow through them.
And thus is a Hebridean Storm Ciara. She’s not the worst we’ve seen – the storm has been more focussed on the poor folks in the south of Britain, flooding, blowing and wreaking havoc. And all the while the little voice in the backs of our heads are whispering:
“Is this the future we’ve determined for ourselves?”