The Windmill House
The sky has changed since this morning, from a hazy grey to a brilliant blue.
White cumulus clouds hover motionless above the roof of the house and the sun shines hot onto the back of my neck and uncovered head.
I have walked across the causeway to the sound of herring gulls screeching their familiar call but now the noise has changed to the gentle chirruping of reed warblers as they dart in and out of the marram grass, blanketing this part of the island from the sand dunes to the gorse bushes around the pond.
The old windmill still stands, tall and sail-less as it surveys the shore, watching the endless tides ebb and flow day in day out, and through all seasons.
It was winter the first time I met you here. You stood on the turrets of the mill, waving and calling to me as the wind tried to blow you from your viewpoint. Your words sailed away and out on the tide leaving me not knowing what you’d said.
The door of the house opened outwards onto the scrub of the garden. You said it was for when the snow came; you could push it away from the door and never be blocked in. But snow never stays long here. The salt in the air and the sea itself keep it from settling thickly. The isolation of the house on the island is enough.
The stone floor of the house felt icy even through my boots and you ushered me towards the open fire. It crackled and sparked as the driftwood, gathered from the nearby beach, burned hot. We warmed ourselves and drank hot coffee from tin mugs, cupping them in our hands, trying to keep the heat in.
We slept on a mattress on the floor of the upstairs room and looked out at the moon
rising over the sea, round and white casting shafts of light sparkling onto the water.
Real moon beams.
We watched the sun setting over the land in vertical rainbows, pink and purple making splendorous skies. In the morning the sun sent streams of light onto the cold stone floor and warmed us with its rays. You said you would never leave this place and I knew that was true.
Today it is hard to imagine winter ever being here. There is a hum in the air from the heat and from the bees hovering around the honeysuckle crawling up and over the porch . I reach out and grasp the metal door handle, pulling it towards me. But the door is locked tight and I don’t have the key. The windows are covered with net curtains and though I peer through the glass all I see is my own reflection looking back at me. Above my head a single kite hovers then swoops down and across the water of the pond. It plucks something from the reeds, a mouse or a shrew, I can’t tell. I feel the beat of its wings as it passes over me. The sun beats down causing the blood to race and my head to pound. In the distance the sea laps onto the half-sand, half-mud beach as the tide begins to turn.+
Some say they saw you on the beach that morning, barefoot by the rockpools then pacing that stretch of sand. You stood for a while, staring towards the horizon. Then you walked. Straight out onto the sand through the rivulets of wavy streams, to the shore. Into the deeper water and then the breakers. And on.
The kite soared in the sky above, watching silently and knowing everything.
(Watercolour painting of "The Snook", Lindisfarne.
by Stewart Platt )