I awaken dreaming of home where waves crash white on a beach, dramatic and full of light.
Here, far inland from the open sea, the waves lap.
Today the fjord is calm and the sun shines. The air is sweet and I drink it up in long breaths marvelling at its taste, so clear and sharp it cuts through my body. After much standing and looking I peel off my Doc Marten boots and layers of tights and socks. My soles grip the warmed rock as I scamper across and down to a small pebble shore, one of the few places where the water is accessible. The water in the shallows slips over my feet, cold and fresh. I stand still, breathing. A larger-than-usual flock of seagulls flies over me. I wonder if they are agitated by something. I hear a sound, much like the sighs that come from the factory, but from out on the water and not so far away. Porpoise, I guess excitedly as I look over to see sleek black forms breaking the surface coming around the corner of the huge rock which continues the mountainside deep underneath. Up come the fins: one, two, three. Two adults and a calf tucked in close. No, definitely bigger than porpoise. Dolphins? These move slower than dolphins. They breathe again, shooting up a spray indicating a big set of lungs. I am confused. The sound their breath makes in this stillness is larger than anything I have heard from any other creature.
Instantly a memory shoots into my consciousness out of forgotten depths. I am in Knut’s car, driving along the winding roads, though tunnels in rock as he drives us to play in a concert in a small Folkets Hus on up the fjord. I am asking him if he has seen the porpoise. ‘Oh yes’, he says, ‘and the other ones, the whales’. ‘Whales? No!’ I say, incredulous and jealous. ‘Yes’, he replies cooly, ‘these ones with the black and white. I have seen them’.
Jesus, I now think, could these be orca? And there, a head moving a little bit more out of the water to reveal a clean white mark against black – the marking of an orca.
All through the years, all those hours standing on rocks just like this looking out at the sea hoping, wishing to see a whale; here in the Hardangerfjord, or in Donegal, at home in Down or in Kerry, in England, Spain or on the log-filled beaches of British Columbia, always dreaming, seeing them only ever in my dreams.
And here they are, three at once, passing me by and disappearing.