Posted by: Shanna Germain | 05/25/2009

Pg. 55: Shedding My Skin


  • Weather: Yes, wet. Pretend you’re shocked.
  • Mileage: Only a couple by foot. Far too many by ferry, train, bus and taxi.
  • Discovery: There is a Starbucks at the Glasgow airport…
  • Media: I’m reading all about Scotland’s supernatural creatures for an upcoming story.
  • Worst Thing: Got. on. the. wrong. bus.
  • Best Thing: The awesome number of pictures and stories I got in response to my request to share your lives. Wow. I can’t wait to start posting them. You’re going to love them, I swear it!
  • Quote of the Day: “My jeans are wet!” Hollered by the boy (I say boy. He was probably in his early twenties) who kicked a soccer ball into the ocean, then slipped off his shoes and socks, rolled up his jeans and strode into the water to try and retrieve said ball. All he ended up with was wet pants, cat calls from his friends lined up on shore (“Yer pants are already wet. Ya might as well go get it now!”) and a soccer ball that just kept drifting farther and farther out, ala Wilson.
  • Word of the Day: Nippy. Someone who can’t stop talking. Not to be confused with nip, which is a glass of whiskey. Although I can see how the two words might go hand-in-hand.


Walking down the shore in the drizzle, in the rain, in the evening skies, the far-off hills looking like a swatch of purple-gray paint covered them, there off the shore: small black heads. Like black labs paddling through the water. Up and under. Two seals, cruising along, silent. Faster swimmers than I walk. Headed somewhere I don’t know. Can never know.

I imagined them like selkies.

Silkies are shape shifting sea fairies usually in the form of bright-eyed seals. They are localised to Northern Scotland and the Shetland Islands.Silkies often came on to land in human form, where they would dance, especially on the night of the full moon.

In taking human form the Silkies shed their sealskin, and hide them in a safe place. There are many tales from the clans of leaders taking Silkie wives by stealing their skins. The Silkies are said to make good wives but always long for the sea, and return to their seal form if they gain repossession of their skins.

But then I was thinking, perhaps they have the story wrong. Maybe it isn’t about them being captured, and then forever searching for their skins, for their way to return back to the sea. Maybe it’s really about them looking for a safe place to land and shed their skins. To be seen and loved beneath the thick glossy pelt.

I wanted to offer them that.

Isn’t it what we’re all looking for?

Far and fast, s.


“Once a selkie finds its skin again, neither chains of steel nor chains of love can keep her from the sea.” ~Secret of Roan Inish.”



  1. Hello-
    We’ve had the movie; The Secret of Roan Inish, for years! It was one of Chelsea’s favorite stories because of the seals. Haven’t watched it for years. There’s a baby in a basket that floats out to sea also and ends up back on an island that the family has moved off of to town. Fiona the sister finds him somehow living with the seals. He’s a wild seal child.
    Thanks for sharing your weather. The garden is planted (last Saturday) and needed a drink to sprout. I can’t wait for summer squash, green & purple beans, peppers, tomatoes… So much work to do this time of year, I always say I’m going to sit and soak up the sun in June, never happens.
    All is well here. Wishing you some sunshine to go with your greens.

    • I know! I thought of her as soon as I saw them, and I remember watching that with her. I’d forgotten about the baby though — I’ll have to watch it again.

      Can you send veggies? The ones we get here are all from Spain. But I guess we should be having some local varieties sometime in mid-June 🙂

  2. Late response I saw that film a year ago and loved it. My fathers side of the family is rumored to have originated where that was filmed.

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