Bruised Blue Skies

 

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It’s that time of the morning.

Children have been forced to eat what’s good for them, wrestled into clothes and despatched grumbling that they don’t want or need to go to school only to skip happily out off the car on arrival to see their friends. There is no looking over shoulders or goodbye hugs for their father. Then again there are no tears or holding on to their father with exhortations for him not to leave them. I’m happy with that.

Dogs have been walked. The village has been thoroughly re-sniffed by The Assistants. Any overnight changes to the ambience have been noted. Doggy pals have been greeted and the territory of bitter enemies thoroughly pee’d on. Sheep have been ignored, rabbits have been glared at, chickens given withering glances, cars avoided and people assaulted in a too friendly way.

The dogs are now having a well earned rest. Junior Assistant sprawls on the couch. Senior Assistant, having noticed that Mrs L365 is missing, is lying patiently at the front door awaiting her return. Senior Assistant doesn’t like things not being as they should be. She is happiest when the children are playing in their rooms or playroom and Mrs L365 and I are at our desks. That is how it should be.

As it’s that time in the morning the kettle is on and I’m sitting in a chair in the window with the laptop on my knee looking out at the view. I should be using the time the kettle takes to boil to check the social media we have become addicted to but the world outside my window has grabbed my attention and I am writing this.

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Outside our back garden there is a croft. Beyond it is the sea. This morning the sea is dark and flecked with white horses as the tide runs against and fights with the wind. In the distant north the Minch and the island of Raasay are disappearing into dark, bruised, cobalt clouds that are so heavy with rain they seem to have fallen onto the surface of the sea obliterating the horizon. Scalpay and Papay and Longay stand out in a brown contrast to a sea and sky that seem to have merged. I am mesmerised by the weather.

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The kettles boils. Whistling insistently on the hob, dragging me from the dramatic vista outside. If we had an electric kettle I could continue watching and writing but my muse is interrupted by the demands of steam forced through a tiny aperture…

I scuttle back to my vantage point after hurriedly making a mug of coffee…should I have a left over cup-cake from our daughter birthday party yesterday?  Why yes, thank you, I should. That would be delightful. I am sitting eating it absentmindedly covering myself and the laptop in crumbs.

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The dark and ominous blue of the sea and sky is getting closer. It is now threatening the Inner Sound. It looks like a vast monster eating up the sea. I notice a yacht travelling east from Raasay, probably hoping to make it to Applecross or Gairloch. It’s sails stand out bright white and tiny against the vast darkness about to envelope it. It looks so small and vulnerable, all alone in a vast stormy sea. Actually the wind is quite light, the sea while choppy is not that rough and the distance between islands and mainland isn’t that far but the clouds are filled with the promise of heavy rain and hail. It must feel quite intimidating on the boat. The yacht’s sails lose their glow as the clouds loom over it first dimming then smothering the sun’s light completely. It becomes increasingly difficult to see and it disappears.

The squall makes inexorable progress towards me. Swallowing more islands in its path. Longay is the next to vanish.  As it approaches each island the wall of cloud seems to rise up off the water’s surface and glide over the land with what seems like a curtain of mist spreading from its newly exposed underside onto the hills below. I know it isn’t mist. If I can see it from miles away it is hail or huge drops of rain that is now pummelling Scalpay. After it swallows the puny island it crashes back down onto the sea and continues towards me.

Broadford Bay has strips of differing dramatic blues across its surface. Turquoise, prussian blue, royal blue, silver blue each stretching across from one side to another diminishing in colour and vibrancy as each nears the towering bank of cloud that now has completely swallowed the Inner Sound . Each layer dulls, darkens and vanishes under the cloud as it relentlessly picks up speed, getting closer and closer.

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I switch on a light as the keyboard becomes increasingly difficult to see. It is like night outside. The sun is being pushed aside by the clouds. The sea is flattened as the hail beats it into a smooth submission. It’s getting darker and darker. The bay is now a haze of falling ice and water. Scalpay has all but vanished in this torrent of stormy weather. The sun has a last hurrah and turns the croft below us a bright gold against the threatening blue behind us. The house on the croft below us briefly glows a snowy white until it is quickly subsumed in the maelstrom. I can now hear the rain. There is a rush of the rising wind that is being pushed ahead of the squall and then the hail is upon us, battering and clattering against the window.  The hail runs down the window until it starts to collect and compact at the bottom of the glass. The view is obliterated as the window is struck by more and more hail and rain. The roof drums and rattles with and increasing intensity. The outside world is now a dull blur. I can’t see anything. I can barely hear anything either. Hail is dramatic when you have a tin roof.

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Then suddenly it stops. The great heaving behemoth of a storm passed over us in less than a minute. As the window slowly clears it reveals sunshine and blue skies. There are puffy white clouds. Almost Simpsons like.

Two minutes later there is no sign of the hailstones that had piled up at the bottom of our window and had covered the croft outside. The grass is a bit wet and the sheep look extra clean but the storm has left little impression. This isn’t the first Skye has seen and the island shakes them off with a practised ease.

I finish my coffee, get up and head back to work…I pause. Look out at the blue sky and wonder if I should put the washing out?

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