March 2016: It’s the hungry season, as winter grazing becomes harder to find and the island’s free-ranging livestock stray further in search of nourishment. Jonathan found our youg ram lambs (now nearly a year old) down on the rocky shore of our croft, nosing amongst the seaweed for … well that’s as yet unknown. With his wellies on anyway, J climbed down amongst the rocks and seaweed to investigate. The rock is bare above spring high tide line, but below that the rock – black with algae and treacherously slippy, is mostly hidden beneath a dark brown blanket of slithery spiral and bladder wracks. There are, however, level areas where the weed is just a ‘single layer’ deep, and the plants are easily pushed aside to reveal a hidden shore – a hidden world.
Over the bedrock, between clear-watered rivulets and pools, there’s a carpet of countless shells – periwinkles, whelks, black-footed and common limpets (we seem to have a nursery for limpets), common otter shells, shrimps, sea anenomes … and lots and lots of pottery shards. What seems so extraordinary is that everything hard – shells, pebbles, ceramics – are splashed liberally with a multicolour fresco of coloured algae: greens, pinks, purples, delicate pale blues. (Somewhere in these photos is the neck of a whisky bottle – complete with screw cap: can you find it?) What seems so un-preposessing a shore of monochrome black and tan, belies a hidden shore of colour and life. Oh – and one other thing J found whilst down amongs the rockpools: his left wellington boot has a leak!