A Long Island

Its that few days between Christmas and the New Year when life slows down and you slip into a nether world of not knowing what day it is. I’ve been to Long Island before, about a mile long, only 5 people living there now but once it had three hundred and a school and that before engines and cars and phones. John, our charming neighbour has a twenty foot punt with a seagull engine at the back. He’ll take us over. Not today as the tide is low and the boat is way up the strand. Tomorrow – yes fine – 11 is good – see you at the pier.

Don’t Pay the Ferryman!

We board after Zoe the labrador across a mirror like sound, John’s voice weaving stories above the drone of the engine. We are left at the Easternway pier, three hours to kill. We make it to the milk bottle point through mud and over walls. Its New Years Day and we can’t quite believe that its 12 degrees and there are heron rising and cormorants launching into the surf off the black black rocks.

Fishing takes patience and stillness

We make our way back to the pier and strike west for the other end. We stop outside a house to photograph a fish crafted out of stone. The dog of the house inspects us and finding we are okay, he leads off ahead of us. The deserted, lonesome, winding road is flanked by low walls full of the colour of lichen and white stones and grey shades and shapes etched by the changing weather, the dog’s rear end trotting gleefully ahead of us . He leads us straight down to a beach where he waits for a stick to be thrown, communicating this to us so quickly and effectively that we are in his thrall immediately. He has a tendency to growl in the midst of his play and he is highly protective and alert to dogs that attempt to come down on the beach at the same time as us. This is no domesticated mutt that needs his poo picked up by his owner. He is all dog and nature and instinct unleashed on the world.

The sun comes out and the odd neighbour – they are all odd here- remarks how remarkable it is for a new years day and its a good thing we didn’t try to come out tomorrow as its to rain. We rendevous at the pier and have a wait for our ferryman. I sit on the ground relishing the last moments of our island escape. The dog – Kerry – nuzzles my hand, hungry for affection and leans against me. The wild nature craves the loving touch same as the rest of us.

John arrives at the pier in an ancient renault 5 with Billy, one of the 5 residents. He will get his daily dozen by walking back to the western end.

As we round the pier Kerry frantically runs down the steps, looking like he will jump in after us. Then he stands and barks until we are out of hearing.


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