Senses and elements

I sit by the dying embers of the morning fire in a cottage in Scotland. As is to be expected in November, it’s grey and cold outside. Hence the early morning fire, for company, warmth and beauty. My hair and jumper smell of it, my toast and tea taste of it. It burns down quickly with the vent wide open, but I don’t mind feeding it and tending it, like a living creature.

Kitchen wood burner at Douglas Cottage in Coldingham, Scotland. Photo by Jessica Zarins November 2022.

Yesterday was different. It was sunny, even warm, and the early winter colours in the low light were magnificent. I walked on the grass along the cliffy coast, and swam in the cold salt sea on a sandy beach. It was midday but felt like perpetual sunset, like the winters of my childhood. I made it to St Abb’s Head, and looking out at the open North Sea with the wind whipping my body I had to sit down on the grass to not get vertigo. Safely seated, I could enjoy the sensations of all the elements around me: the earthy ground, the salt strong sea, the magnificent space of the sky, the fresh air of the fast wind, and the heat of the low, faraway fiery sun.

Being immersed in nature like this is something I usually only feel when I swim. But even here on land, in the wind, I felt that all my senses were satisfied by all the elements. In that moment, it felt comparable only to sex. The push and pull of the wind and the warmth from the sun is like the movement, breath and heat from your lover. You hear the language of the sea, the birds and the grass whisper to you like the words in your ear during. You taste salt and smell musky earth, while looking at the most spectacular beauty of different colours, textures and functions. It’s fully immersive, it’s natural, and it’s purely pleasurable.

View from the path towards St Abbs Head, overlooking St Abbs harbour, village and coastline. Photo by Jessica Zarins, November 2022

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