I think the mackerel are back. I'm neither a marine biologist nor a fisherman, yet I feel confident in my hunch. Staring out my window to the steel-grey, wind-swept waters of St Andrews Bay, I see two great clouds of gulls dive-bombing the choppy whitecaps. Their method is entrancing. They fly in an arc, vaguely parallel to the water (though not perfectly, it is an arc) and when something under the surface catches their eye they pivot and tuck their wings in, dropping like a rock, or a lawn dart. Does anyone remember lawn darts? In any case, there's quite a big splash and if they're lucky, these feathered lawn darts emerge with a fish for their trouble. It sounds simple, and yet the sight of three hundred odd birds doing this in cyclical perpetuity, or as long as the fish are there, is striking. My brain wants to find some sort of pattern in the attack, though there is none. The birds don't take turns and so no rhyme nor reason emerges. And still I look for one, regardless. I wonder if it would be harder to break my gaze if I found a pattern, or if it's the search that keeps me looking.
As distractions go, I prefer gulls fishing to the temptations of Facebook and Twitter. All too frequently does 'one more look' become 15 or 20 minutes of my life I shall never recover, undoubtedly providing less wonder and insight than lawn-dart birds harassing schools of oily fish.
Distractions are a danger at the moment, no matter how much wonder and insight I can convince myself I've found. I've cast aside my traditional safety nets and in no particular order, I need to start a new book, redraft the last book, find jobs to apply for and continue to harass agents. I'll never be able to reconcile whether I'm a writer or a professional wine geek if I cannot find the motivation to excel at both.
And so it's time to pivot and tuck in my wings, plunging into cold grey water and sloppy metaphors.