bound for the treshnish

It seemed a propitious omen for the day that as soon as our boat sailed out of Tobermory harbor and past the lighthouse it was greeted by a pod of dolphins eager to swim along in our wake. Soon afterwards we saw seals, too, and the rare storm petrel which spends most of its life at sea. We were bound for the Treshnish, an archipelago of uninhabited volcanic islands and skerries west of Mull. The largest of the islands, Lunga, is known for the puffins that arrive each summer to breed en masse. In fact, shortly after making landfall on the rocky coast I was in the company of those adorable, torpedo-shaped seabirds, as well as eider ducks, cormorants, and crested shags. I had expected to see a few other nesting birds as well, yet nothing quite prepared me for the sight of thousands upon thousands of razorbills, guillemots, and gulls nesting up the coast in the crags of a guano-drenched pinnacle of rock. It was like a scene from a horror film: half of the birds nesting, the other half circling the sky, and all of them cawing at a collectively deafening pitch. The puffins were docile by comparison. In pairs they burrow underground to lay a single egg, in groups they sit together quietly and preen. I sat and chatted with a rook of about twenty puffins while I ate my lunch. They watched me and I watched them. We got along famously. I was sad when the time came to leave – for the record, they didn’t seem to take any notice –  but other islands and other adventures called.

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to the lighthouse

A pleasant half hour hike out of the port side of Tobermory harbor led me through woods worthy of the Cottingley fairies before emerging onto the headland and a lighthouse built by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson who, apparently, built a lot of the lighthouses still operating across the Scottish highlands. I feel like I need to make a point of saying that these photos are unadulterated. At 10 o’clock in the evening the sky still glowed with a diffuse, rosy light. I’d always supposed the UK as being on a parallel plane with New York, yet once I’d traced the lines of longitude I discovered that, in fact, I am currently in line with exact center of Canada’s Hudson Bay. That would explain why it has yet to get truly dark here: by the time the backlight dissolves over one horizon, the sun is rising on the opposite one. That’s going to make for some wonderful post-prandial strolls.

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let there be light

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harvey cedars, nj: mail call

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