Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The only trip 'off island' some of us took 
was a morning boat ride 
to the neighboring island 
of Staffa. 
A geographical wonder that has mystified scientists for years, 
Staffa is compromised of thousands 
of geometrical black basalt columns 
formed by volcanic activity
millions of years ago. 
According to folks who study this type of thing, 
the only similar 'stone' type in the world 
is found in 'the Giant's Causeway' 
in Northern Island.

On one hand, 
it's hard to believe that it's not man-made; 
on the other, 
it's impossible to envision the equipment, 
hours, manpower and expense 
that would have been needed 
to create such a structure
 and under weather conditions 
that would have made it impossible. 
Sir Robert Peel noted in a speech in Glasgow, in 1837, 
"I have seen the temple not made with hands."

Fingal's Cave, the largest cave of the island, 
served as the inspiration 
for a movement of Mendelsohns 
'Hebrides' symphony.
All the islands 'creation legends' feature giants; 
in particular, one named Torquil.
Seems Torquil Macleod of Eigg 
was carrying the best piece of the Giants Causeway 
in a sack as he waded home.
A few fragments fell out - 
forming the small rocks southwest of Staffa - 
and then the entire sack split 
and the largest piece,
the best,
splashed into the sea.

 It had been a long day, 
so Torquil, 
tired and grumpy, 
left it where it was. 

When Torquil died, 
a nine-headed monster
used the great cave 
to preserve his victims 
in vinegar and malt whiskey 
before eating them.
Like I said, the people of this region know how to spin a yarn!

The island is uninhabited; 
in fact, there are only a few times per season 
when conditions are favorable for landing on the island.

Certainly the day we were there was not one of them - 
battling the boulders that surround the island, 
the rip-tides and the swells 
would have been impossible. 
I was glad when the Captain said he'd decided not to attempt it - 
and we all lived to see another day!

The sea, which had been calm when we set out, 
actually became quite agitated for the return trip.
As the boat hit a swell and water sloshed over the side, 
I couldn't help but ask the Captain how cold the sea was 
this time of year and this far North. 
(Yes, visions of frozen bodies from the movie 'Titanic' 
were playing on endless loops in my head!)

I was shocked when the Captain replied, he had no idea; he didn't swim.
My face must have registered my surprise because he went on to say... 
"Aye lass, that's the kind of Captain you want. 
I have no intention of putting myself - or you - in the drink".
From his smile, I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not - 
probably pure Blarney - 
but reassuring - and charming-  

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