Late morning, and the sun is hot. A heat haze is drowning the promontory with its warning light. The tide is receding leaving behind a ragged curtain of debris hanging from the lower branches of the mangroves. A boy, perhaps eleven or twelve, is walking along the beach. He is wearing a long sleeved jumper and knee length shorts, but no shoes.

The boy is carrying a large sack made of woven plastic. The sack has holes at the bottom; there are pieces of polystyrene visible through them. He drags the sack across the basalt shore, which must be hard on his feet, although he shows no signs of discomfort, no awkwardness in the steps he takes a cross the rocks.

A dog joins him as he wanders along the beach. The boy is at work picking through the flotsam left by the outgoing tide. The dog, letting the boy do the work, is ready to pounce on any edible morsel the he might unearth.

The boy is very selective about what he collects. He designates a value to each scrap, throwing back to the wrack-line anything that is of no use to him.

The sack is full. To prevent spillage the boy stops and ties a piece of string around the top before continuing along the beach, dragging the sack behind him. He stops before he reaches the place where I am sitting, throws the sack into languid surf and walking carefully into the lapping water he catches up with, then straddles the buoyant bag. The dog steps into the water and watches. Satisfied with his position astride the raft the boy pulls a piece of wood out of one of the holes in the sack and holding it in both hands carefully paddles the craft away from the shore.

A smile breaks out across his face and from my seat on the edge of the beach I hear a laugh gush like a fountain out of the smile. The boy works at his newly found skill, paddling up and down and around in circles all the while smiling at his play.

His confidence grows; his ambition broadens as he begins to put greater effort into making the craft go faster. But leaning too far forward he makes his vessel unstable and it spills him into the sea. The scavenging dog wades further into the surf watching the boy flounder, hoping that in amongst the spilling sack there might still be something for him to eat.

The boy successfully re-boards but as he does the sack leaks too much of its load losing its buoyancy altogether. After several failed attempts to re-launch, the boy gathers up the floating debris, re-stuffs the sack then drags it to the shore and reties the top.

Work finished, time to return. The boy walks off towards the fishing village. The dog looks on, waits, hoping. He eventually gives up, lowers his head then heads off into the streets.

Cinque Terre
Mountains and fjords
Northern Lights
Nature and sunrise
Snowy Mountains