That night, though, far out into the North Atlantic, there were no lights to be seen, for there was no shipping. The deep-water lanes that ducted the big freighters stayed much closer to the Lewis mainland. There was the Hebridean, 500 yards or so off our port stern, its green starboard lamp winking as it rose and fell in the waves. Otherwise, the only lights were celestial. The star-patterns, the grandiose slosh of the Milky Way. Jupiter, blazing low to the east, so brightly that it laid a lustrous track across the water, inviting us to step out onto its swaying surface. The moon, low, a waxing half, richly coloured – a red butter moon, setting down its own path on the water. The sea was full of luminescent plankton, so behind us purled our wake, a phosphorescent line of green and yellow bees, as if the hull were setting a hive aswarm beneath us. We were at the convergence of many paths of light, which flexed and moved with us as we headed north.

– From “The Old Ways,” by Robert MacFarlane

Advertisements