Early summer: landscapes of salt and dust

After one of the wettest winters on record, we shifted abruptly into one of the driest spring and early summers for decades – shortly after the coronavirus lockdown began. It’s only May, but for the last week or two every day has been sunny and hot. We’ve taken to staying out of the sun around lunchtime and in the early afternoon because it’s just too hot. Our lives are dictated by the tides and the wind direction, which tell us what beach to go to, and at what time. Yesterday we were down at Petit Port at lunchtime for the neap tide.

Already everything is dry and desiccated, as if it were nearing the end of summer. The grasses are beautiful, backlit by the sun, yellowing in the heat. Walks by the sea are so beautiful at this time of year, the paths dry and dusty, flowers all around. Even the roadsides are beautiful, before the “branchage” (Jersey’s traditional cutting back of roadside vegetation) so that the multitude of flowers, bushes and grasses are in full display.

For the last couple of days I’ve been swimming at a place I’ve always known as “The Rocks”. It was my Grandfather’s favourite spot to swim, and it’s always deserted because it’s a rocky cove and access isn’t easy. 

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After my swim, I explored the cove, and found beautiful landscapes in miniature made by salt evaporating out of pools and cracks in the rock. They’re ephemeral, due to be dissolved away as the next cycle of spring tides begins, but in the meantime they leave behind stunning patterns and shapes. I like the contrast with the aeons of time that have gone into making the granite bedrock, bringing it to the surface and weathering it into the landscape we have today. In contrast, the salt landscapes change every day, sometimes even every hour, as the water evaporates and the crystals dry out.

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