Friday, August 01, 2014

Stories in the ancient cliffs of Arbroath, Auchmithie and beyond...

The Arbroath Signal Tower, built in 1813 by Robert Stevenson,
the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson.
In every out-thrust headland,
in every curving beach,
in every grain of sand
there is the story of the earth."
- Rachel Carson

With a sense of great anticipation, we met up with Ian, at 0930 hrs - it was going to be another great day on the North Sea waters, off the Angus coast of Scotland. Ian has already written a marvellous story, with descriptions and images of the geological history at Mountain and Sea Scotland.

It's a profoundly moving experience to paddle along the edge of these ancient sandstone cliffs. They have so many stories to tell...

And so we set out along the cliffs, under a windless, azure sky.

Joan and Ian, paddling along the Seaton Cliffs - in waters rarely this calm.
Tides, waves, weather, and the continual movement of the earth continue to shape and carve, build up and wear down the 400 million year old sandstones and conglomerates.

An elegant P&H Cetus (kayak), and the Deil's Heid.
Deep caverns and caves, geos and countless nooks and crannies beckon those who are fortunate to be at their entry portals...but there's a caution. Conditions must be perfect. On this day, they were.

Ian, near the tiny beach of the Gaylet Pot blow hole.
Forward progress on the water was slow, there was simply so much to take in. One felt compelled to pause, contemplate, reflect, and "listen".

Imagine. What if we did take the time to listen to the "stories" each grain of sand, each darkened cave might tell?

"Inside" looking out.
William Wordsworth wrote, "let nature be your teacher". 

Headlamps: "On"
If we paused our frantic pace, our constant hunger for digital connectivity, and our "urgent" agendas sufficiently, her great wisdom would find an entry point into our lives. 

She would gently guide us to doing what we must do to safeguard life on this fragile, island planet. 

She would demonstrate to us how we could truly enrich one another's lives by an equal and just sharing of resources.

Twin portals.
If we followed nature's gentle guidance, this "blue marble", as it appears from a million miles away in space, could be assured of health and vitality, balance and beauty. Humankind and creation would be at peace with one another.

Once a headland?
Biologist Callum Roberts, in The Ocean of Life, calls us to understand that "it is essential for ocean life and our own that we transform ourselves from being a species that uses up resources to one that cherishes and nurtures them."

Last stop...savouring.
Jacques Cousteau taught, "people protect what they love." Before we are truly able to love this planet, however, we need to get to know it. In so doing, we would certainly learn to cherish and nurture it.

Joan and Ian...and nothing on the North Sea's horizon.
There's a "story" being told in every moment of time...

Homeward bound...we'll be back. we take time to listen? Do we spend sufficient time "out"doors where the stories are being told?

As Annie Dillard says, "We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place."

Hmm...perhaps if we did, we'd get a better feel for one another in this world. A possible strategy for peace?

The kayak cockpit, of course, is just one place that lends itself rather well to the job of "listening". :)


  1. What you have said is so true. We need to make time to be quiet and just listen, not only to this planet but too each other. Not only is this planet so very fragile but so is life itself. They are gifts that need to be treasured. Living in peace with one another, caring for the planet, two very simple things we could all easily do.

  2. Amazing pictures! What a wonderful place to spend a day on the water exploring!

  3. Hi Anon, thank you for that. I think the willingness to "listen" is one of the most precious gifts we can give to one another. It acknowledges, affirms, and demonstrates value. When we listen to each others stories, we put into place all the ingredients required to build relationships based on understanding. You're right, it is simple. Very best wishes. Duncan

  4. Hi L, it is, indeed a most amazing place to explore. You would recognise many of the sandstone "sculptures" from our walks along the trail above the cliffs when you were here. We must do it again. :) D.

  5. Hi D & J, great thoughts from a really great day :o)

    Kind regards

  6. Thanks for that, Ian. It was,, indeed, a rare "window" - couldn't have been better! :) Duncan.