We have been welcomed into our tiny community in so many ways. Arriving just before Christmas, we expected to quietly work on the house – it is a work in progress - and thought that maybe by summer we will have made a friend or two. How wrong we were! People arrived to introduce themselves, we were pressed into joining the Bonfire Night party at the local Pub (our nearest neighbour), booked in for Christmas dinner there and whenever we wandered down for a beer, ended up staying for ages just chatting and swapping life stories.
One of our incredible perks is the small sandy beach that runs along the bit of Loch just steps from our front door. Although mostly deserted, after all this is the depths of winter, people are out there from time to time walking dogs or studiously combing the sand eyes down for shells or other treasure. Recognizing one of our new friends (we’ll call him Beachcomber) today, M bounded down the steps to give him some bits of beach glass and pottery we had found. These little treasures are hard to come by here as we are already many miles up the Loch, away from the sea, but heavy swells and high tides the last few days have brought in an abundance. Strung together and hung from a bit of driftwood, Beachcomber and his wife make wonderful and unique wind chimes from these scraps of beach rubbish, polished and smoothed by the waves.
M and Beachcomber were examining some of the days’ haul and one piece of glass in particular stood out. They were speculating on the origins of what appeared to be a piece of sand worn, slumped glass. Possibly Ireland or the Isle of Mann; the by-product of a far away studio? What about closer, further up the Loch? Are there any local glass producers? “Well, I wouldn’t know” said Beachcomber, “I’m from the East”.
Now I must try to explain what a character Beachcomber is. Stocky, ‘bout 5’ 8”, blue jeans, tucked half in, half out of brown walking boots, long fur-trimmed parka, thick hair mid-way down his back, tied in a ponytail. So what’s so different? Well, for one thing Beachcomber is in his late sixties and the hair is mostly grey but it’s his original approach to shaving that marks him as not your average retiree. The stubble on his chin most resembles several random clusters of recently coppiced young trees surrounded by barren patches where nothing grew.
Get past the unusual facial hair and there's a twinkle in the eye and that calm that comes from being at peace with yourself and your environment.
He’s been here quite a couple of years, moving over from Edinburgh, 100 miles East of us, moving toward the sunset. When he was a younger man he would look West from the streets of the city and see the spectacular sunsets on this side and say to himself, “one day I’ll be there” and now he is... another fragment of the whole mosaic, finally in place.