Wednesday, 29 October 2014

St Brelade

We sat, staring across the beach and out to sea. The sky was grey, the sand a dark brown, and the sea was slate. Trees on the distant headland flashed their greens as they swayed in the wind, until they fell victim to a mist that was slowly, but unrelentingly, swallowing the world. Swimmers, too, were swallowed, as standup paddleboarders faded to grey and a lone yacht retreated into the gloom. All around the landscape became saturated but for the merest wisps of colour: the yellow of a tennis ball, thrown for a Springer Spaniel — splish! into the waves — and the artificial red of the strawberry syrup on our ice creams.

A man walked across the scene, some distance ahead of his Highland Terrier. The terrier, it seemed, had grander plans in mind than a mere walk, for beneath the sand he dreamed of treasure. Like a dog possessed he found his spot, and now hemustdigHeMustDigHEMUSTDIG, sand spraying aft as the hole before him deepened. No man could lead him astray from his objective.

To our right, a greyhound sat and waited for his new best friend: a toddler. The child waddled and stumbled as her legs, so new to walking, searched for traction in the sand. Eventually she succeeded and reached the dog, who, after a brief cuddle, rose and found a new resting place, just metres away. Events repeated. By these means the greyhound encouraged the child on this adventure, across a beach that was disappearing.

Over time the mist receded: first the top of the headland reappeared, a foreboding hovering presence in the sky before its base was later revealed. Public on the beach, swimmers, paddleboarders and colour slowly returned to view. As we left we saw the footprints of those who had walked, undetected, through the haze: paw prints, bird tracks and a set of footprints belonging to an adult. Alongside them, as if they had walked hand in hand, were further footprints, of a child.