My first thought when thinking about water just now was a poem by Roger McGough, which I believe appears on a fountain in Liverpool, with words along the lines of ‘water is energy water is scoosh water is splash’. That pretty much sums up how I could write about water. It is sanctuary, safety, essential for life and yet utterly dangerous if treated badly. It is conducive to thought and capable of whimsy too, with raindrops enducing people to dance along streets with umbrellas in films and music videos when most other folk would just scurry out of the road.
In thinking about water, I have chosen some photographs from recent trips that sum up the varying perspectives one can have of and on the sea.
These first two were taken the other week at Morrison’s Haven, near Prestonpans, and look towards Fife. The Forth was so clear in these but it’s almost like the darker grey shades of the land are seeping out into the water, especially as you look towards Inchkeith. There isn’t much colour around but that isn’t so bad as sometimes you can see things stand out just that bit more clearly.
This photo is pretty much the opposite, from the other side of the Forth and with much sharper colours in the sky and on the sea. Inchkeith also features, though that wasn’t my intention. This was taken at Ravenscraig Castle, near Kirkcaldy in Fife, looking towards Edinburgh with Arthur’s Seat sharply captured on the capital’s skyline. Where the middle distance joined the land in the last photos, this is where the sun hits this time, emphasising just why the Proclaimers sang ‘the best view of all is where the land meets the sky’.
This was taken later the same day, in Crail on the East Neuk of Fife. I liked this because of how the buildings and boats are reflected in the harbour. Sometimes, though, water reflects what we don’t intend or don’t notice right away, as seen by these poles, seemingly unconnected to anything but present in reflection in the middle of the harbour.
Last but not least, this is why a raised perspective over water is incredibly varied according to the day or the moment. This was taken on the Elizabethan walls that surround Berwick-upon-Tweed, just over the border into Northumberland. The sea, for me at least, is a supporting player allowing a better view into the distance to Lindisfarne to the left and Bamburgh Castle to the right, as well as to a swarm of birds circling above the Holy Island. Also, the scaffolding and the houses at the bottom remind us of domestic considerations and to wonder why the scaffolding is there.
I grew up by the sea and now live not so far from the river. Or a few rivers, really, even while most of us think of the great Clyde and dismiss the others. Water is essential for life, certainly for thought, and every day, every hour even, it shapes the moment while never changing its essence despite appearances.