Autumn Equinox on the Isles of Scilly – Druidic Reflections


“For equanimity ( and the Equinox) to be fully understood and appreciated, so too must all shades either side of it be acknowledged and allowed for”.

The water is lapping gently on the shore. A couple of cormorants bobbing under the water in front of us – with one just now surfacing with what looked like a small eel in its beak. sunlight reflecting from a calm clear sea. A few cumulus clouds in a mostly blue sky. The slightest of breezes. Peace and an all pervasive stillness. Not a soul to be seen along a great swathe of beach on this warmest of sun kissed day.

It is the 24th September , with the Autumn Equinox just past.

Equinox – the time of equal day and equal night – might suggest equanimity : and in the sense of each half of the year being in balance, it certainly does.

However, I find it interesting to reflect on the weather over the last few days and the extreme contrast. On Friday 21st September we took a ferry from Penzance to St Mary’s in the Scillies. I wonder if it would have sailed had we known what was in store. The surge and fall of the waves was a real roller coaster of a journey, with many of the passengers needing the strategically placed ‘sick bags’ – whilst I, tutored by my partner Fleur who is far more experienced on these trips, sought simply to keep my gaze on the horizon and my ears closed to the retching.

It turned out that many of the guests were heading to the same small island as us – St Martins – for a wedding. It appeared that a good few of them had never been on a boat before. And many would likely not repeat the experience based on this trip.

We eventually came through the dramatic right of passage – rising up on the crests and then smashing down in the furrows between the waves – (accepting that my use of language here is more agricultural than nautical)
And there were some amazing benefits to being up on deck – apart from the amusement of each others salt stained faces from the sea sprays
The odd dolphin was spotted , and some incredible acrobats -seabirds such as the graceful gannet and magnificent Manx shearwater.

The day following our sea adventure – Saturday September 22nd – was a ‘hole up , catch up and recover ‘ day , which we mostly spent in the shelter and coziness of a shepherds hut -our home for the week. Outside a storm was raging: wild winds and rain driving in off the Atlantic
We did however venture out to catch sight of the newly weds as they emerged into the elements from the island church. What a day to be married. They were welcomed with a guard of honour – the other rowers from the ‘gigs’ which typify island life hereabouts. An avenue of long rowing paddles held bobbing aloft like sails in the wind in an arch for them to walk through. A rare and inspiring sight. More remarkable still in that we had disembarked at the small quay the day before, to unexpectedly find a couple of old friends waiting – not for us but for relatives arriving for the wedding. The wedding of their niece, Izzy. What a small world. And how discumbobulating to encounter people you know from one social sphere in a completely different setting. For them too. But great to catch up and share stories.

Then yesterday, with the Equinox at 02.54 or thereabouts , as the storm gradually abated and the sun emerged, we trekked over the island , buffeted and blown around by very high winds. But eventually finding a small sandy cove sheltered from the aftermath of the storm and beautifully warm in the sun. There we were blessed by two, three and sometimes four playful seals, gambling and cavorting in the small bay in front of us before seemingly looking our way – as if for approval or recognition – but more likely just to check where we were and what we were up to. What a gift – such a joy to behold. Such a laugh to watch.

Then today. Calm and warm and sunny – an Indian Summer day. And a chance to sit and reflect on the past three days enfolding the Equinox. Every shade of weather reminding me that for equanimity ( and the Equinox) to be fully understood and appreciated, so too must all shades either side of it be acknowledged and allowed for.

Sitting on an upturned rowing boat this Autumn Equinox and looking out over the bay from St Martins – in the Scillies. Having watched the tide turn from its furthest ebb way out toward Tresco , now lapping at its high point near my feet. The day heading toward evening and the magic of the moon rising heart full. Some divers in their boat, heading homeward to shore.

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