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Returning//Reconnaissance

This week is ending with the sun but it started a little cloudy. The school holidays have kicked off in earnest, and as we parked up in the late morning, on a muggy but overcast Tuesday, you could almost feel the park dozing after a hot and busy weekend.


A new person has started at the cafe kiosk and I eagerly purchase coffee, offer a little idle chit chat and delight in the comforting aroma of the steaming liquid, cradled in the cup in my hands. Its heady dark smell drifting in and out over the sweetness of the dry golden grass and the salt smack of the ocean.


Today a few families had ventured out with picnics and were peppered around the play park and along the beach. Mostly the place was populated by a great many dogs (and their human companions) grateful that the temperatures have cooled enough for them to get out of the house and resume their summer walks.


As I sat on top of the crumbling pill box, back to the sandy cliffs, face to the sea, two black labradors splashed in and out of the gently tumbling waves, dancing to a game of fetch with their playmate. I wondered how they might carry anything in those mouths, they were all smiling so hard that to hold anything there must have been quite a task.


This concrete structure used to nestle in and on the cliffs, much as the sand martins do now. It used to keep its face to the sea, much as I do now. Together, I help it watch again for another moment in time. The last time I clambered over it the pill box had been stranded halfway up the beach like a brutalist beached whale. Now the tide was licking all around it.


Sat on top I felt a like Copenhagen's little mermaid. For a minute I worried, checked in with my heart to see it wasn't broken and checked in with my voice to be sure I'd not lost it. This is no time to turn into sea foam after all...


There are places on the coast all around this island, where the wind blowing just right, or the tide tickling at particular heights, can make the cliffs and caves and stones talk. At Kynance there is a crack in the serpentine that steams and hisses like a dragon. At Kenidjack you can hear the low and reedy voices of the ancestors calling up the cliffs on some days.


And here, the pill box begins to groan and mumble. It breathes through the places it has broken, using the power of the tide to talk with me a little. I press my cheek to its salt rough edges and listen, feeling the heartbeat thump of the waves jumping through the structure with my whole body. The landscape is asking us to listen, it is asking us to see.


This solid, seemingly immovable structure is in its own dance with coastal erosion. Just like all of us living on this island...




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