Elemental Colours and Inner Sounds (Water Colours II)

I wrote last year about the Inner Sound and the Minch, stretches of sea between Wester Ross on the Scottish mainland and the Hebrides: https://notesfromasmallcroftbythesea.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/water-colours/

Red River Croft looks out over them both but especially where they meet, one running into the other, where the currents ply back and forth with moon tides and tseasons. I am a lover of mountains and forests, coasts and peat-bogs, and have walked, worked, taught and researched in these environments. I can spin a yarn or two about geo-environmental stuff but I have fallen under a spell, cast by the Inner Sound and amplified and stretched by the wilder waters of the Minch. It has become a strange and inexplicable thing, a symptom of some inner madness perhaps, a yearning for something that cannot be explained in terms of the geoscience I know.

I want to see the sea, watch its every mood, its changing light and tempo, and its sounds and songs as they roll up from the shore. Every chance I get I head out across the fields and down the track to the cliff top. If I cannot go for some reason I will steal as many glances through the windows of our wee home as possible. There are times, in dreams and in waking, when I am certain the sea is calling my name.

What fascinates me most is the interplay of water, air and light. Changes flush through hour by hour while colours, scents and sounds blend and separate. I could watch all day until frozen with cold and torn by hail, or numb with a light-induced headache or bitten by midges. The sea and sky seem as one to me; they exchange energy and power, light and dark, and mould each other in their own likenesses. On occasions I cannot tell them apart and feel as though I am being swept up and absorbed into a single colour or a rainbow of sound.

I think the elementals of this space are pouring themselves deep inside me, replacing all the hormones of womanhood that once made me shine. Ice cold salted winds in midwinter abrade the skin on my face, snow soothes the raw cleanliness. Red heat at summer sunsets gives me the healthy glow of a twenty year old, and I bloom just as I did in pregnancy. Colours merge into sounds in reverse synaesthesia as if the seas are telling stories or chanting hymns. My heart beats like the waves pounding the shore and pushes the volatile aromatics around my arteries and veins. And I can almost see the threads of energy emerging from wave crests or running clouds and entering through the tips of my fingers.

No two days are the same. Each has a different story to tell, new colours and sounds and tastes.

And so I have continued to take pictures. The ones below are wholly undoctored and capture only a brief moment. In most cases the photographs contain no mainland, island or human construct, and often no horizon. They are simply the colours of particular days. When I look at them now I try to remember what I was feeling or thinking at the time but as the hues and tones fix on page or screen I am overwhelmed by the remembered smell of the sea and sound of the wind, and not by any human concept or notion.











About Annie O'G Worsley

I'm a mum of four, gran, writer, crofter & Professor of 'Environmental Change'. I now live on a small farm (known as a croft) by the sea in a place surrounded by the ‘Great Wilderness’ mountains of the Scottish NW Highlands. I was a full-time academic, a geographer, but I decided to go feral and follow my dream of living a smaller, simpler, wilder life. I have always loved wild places. As a child I was inspired by tales of Trader Horn (my great-great-great uncle Alfred Aloysius Smith) told to me by my mother. Trader Horn spent his life wandering, mostly in Africa. I too, love stravaiging (Gaelic for wandering) and spent time in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as a young researcher, living with tribes there. Although I spent years researching and teaching university students about environments, processes and habitats, I am discovering much, much more exploring the wilds around me. In moving away from scientific writing, I have rediscovered my wilder self and have a much deeper, truer understanding of nature than I ever had before. My work is published by Elliott & Thompson in a series of anthologies called 'Seasons' and I am currently writing a book about this extraordinary place. I continue to write academic papers with my research colleagues but I am developing new skills including landscape photography and painting. And of course, I still love to wander.
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7 Responses to Elemental Colours and Inner Sounds (Water Colours II)

  1. Beach Books says:

    I LOVE these.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a beautiful piece, Annie. Honest and elemental in itself. I have these kind of thoughts about our ‘big hill’ & a line from a Kate Bush song haunts me: ‘Your name is being called by sacred things that are not addressed nor listened too. Sometimes they blow trumpets’. This post really struck a chord. Especially this line … ‘I think the elementals of this space are pouring themselves deep inside me, replacing all the hormones of womanhood that once made me shine” x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you Nicola. I know that song, haunting isn’t it. And your comments are also taken deep into my heart. Who would think writing could generate such anguish and such bliss! Hugs to you and yours x


  3. Sandra says:

    Oh my. I really have no words with which to respond, yet respond I must. So beautiful, Annie. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and images 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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