Walking into the unknown again – this time, at 10 in the morning in a heavy, driving mist covering the whole area. It looks a little brighter out to sea, over the pebble ridge. I am sure things will brighten up as time goes on. As I walk forward, the song of the skylark fades, and the roar of the ocean grows louder.
Stumbling across a cluster of large pebbles on a patch of green, I abandon my original plan (messing about, I mean working, on the beach all day in the sunshine) and I start to shift the stones around and add more.
I work happily in the cold mist, my thoughts drifting aimlessly and mindlessly around. Looking out across the ocean, it is still all grey out there, nearly the colour of the stones. Everything is shades of grey.
I walk backwards and forwards collecting the heavy pebbles from the beach, carefully choosing just the right ones. I pace about. I run up and down the little hill to make sure my photos will turn out OK (though not much chance of that, with everything all grey.) Every so often I pause for tea from my flask, feeling cold and wishing I had brought my flier’s hat. Then I resume working. I pick up a surprising amount of nasty plastic litter to take home for disposal. Then more stone work. When it feels like lunch time, I stop and eat my sandwiches crouching behind the little hill out of the wind. I remember, a little late, that I have a waterproof hood attached to my jacket.
There was a time, many years ago, when I would not have been seen dead doing this sort of activity. I was far too sophisticated. Now I know better – or should I say, I don’t care two whatsits. I think of the ephemeral works that one sometimes sees littering beaches and countryside these days – and I wish people would dismantle or remove them once they are done. The point is, the work should make the landscape sing, give it significance and honour, or at least be in harmony with nature’s processes – not an intrusion. I shall leave this here for a few days; them come back and kick it around a bit, so it looks natural.
I feel sorry for the lady who passed by in her summer dress, encouraged by yesterday’s sunny weather. Another couple pass, and ask if I am making a mystical symbol. How should I know? I tell them ‘yes’. These are the only people I have seen in the several hours that I have been here.
Every so often, the mist has come down heavier and darker and colder, then lightens again. Once or twice a faint yellowish circle has appeared in the sky, and I have dashed for my camera on top of the hill.
Huddling down behind the little hill, I begin to sense without looking, the subtle shifts of light, wind direction and intensity, warmth and cold, moisture, salt and sand – and my body feels fully awakened.
Actually, what I was doing was playing around with perspective. I wanted it to look like a circle from the top of the little hill. Like the picture above.
But as you have already seen, the actual real shape was more like this:
I woke up this morning with a bunged up nose, sore throat and sneezing my head off. All through staying out too long in the damp chilly mist over the Burrows. But I reckon it was worth it.