Atlantic Irish Mist

For me, a place can never be neutral; landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes…we are shaped by whatever ‘-scape’ surrounds and envelopes us. We come to mirror our environment so to speak.  Have you ever thought about ‘place’ in a profound and philosophical sense?

A rugged terrain appears to characterise its people as tough and hardy; never fearful of getting their hands dirty or their feet muddy.

Coastal in habitants tend to never take for granted the mysterious element that is the sea – calm or chaotic – it will always take its quota of lives.

Lament of a rugged landscape or calamitous sea can be read on the faces and bodies of those working the land or heading out into the vast ocean.

Have you ever felt the scent of the sea waft under your nostrils when you’re journeying through the coast? I’d like to hear about your experiences. ‘Tasting’ a place, literally and metaphorically, is about using our senses to imbue ourselves with the sense of place.

The coast and the sea are important to me. As I sit, I watch the grey clouds travel across ‘an already grey sky’, from the south-west, bringing with them rain from the Atlantic. As they sweep across the sky, Atlantic mist is forming, creating a curtain or rather a blind that closes down on the sea, and thus, shutting out the horizon.

The coast is busy with cargo ships ‘ebbing and flowing’ as the pilot boat transports the local maritime pilots to and from awaiting vessels, each containing specific freight. It’s amusing to guess the size of the boat, from where it came and its onward journey once it leaves the Port of Cork.

The curtain continues to sweep across the bay. I never tire of this view or any sea view for that matter. It is ever-changing; no two days are the same. The curtain draws back, the blind swings up; the clouds are a much lighter shade, yet still no sun in sight, but I don’t mind. That is the beauty of coastal Ireland.

By the way, if you get a chance to view an Irish TV programme called Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland, it is really worth watch. The presenter, John Creedon, explores the true meaning behind some of Ireland’s most unusual and famous place names; each episode is a journey of discovery as John surveys and strides across the island of Ireland for lost meanings in everyday place names. It’s a 3-part series on Sundays at 18h30 for one hour on RTÉ One. You can view it online: http://www.rte.ie/player. Check out my review…

The Lure of the Pen…

Upon hearing or seeing an airplane do you ever wonder where it’s going, well I do, rather a lot to be honest. The night before last, I heard one overhead. It is a wet, windy but balmy night, I cannot sleep. As I lie in bed words converge in my mind, strings of sentences link together. I decide to get up. I try not to make a sound as my spouse is sleeping soundly. I go to the living area; it is 2h20 am. I switch on the lamp at my desk, I open one of my many notebooks – I love notebooks – I begin to write; all this commotion because I heard a plane over 2 hours ago!

The sound of the plane, what an excuse for not sleeping! However, a delightful excuse for getting up and writing. It’s a strange ‘thing’ to write; the pen is an extension of my hand. I prefer the feeling of holding a pen and, as such, allowing it to glide along the page, word after word, rather like a stream of consciousness, so much more visceral than staring at a blank screen. Ah, but of course where would I be without the ‘ole screen’… once I’ve jotted down a few paragraphs I enjoy, nonetheless, the sound of my fingers tapping on the keypad.  The encounter of the traditional pen and paper with the modern keypad and screen reveals the complexity of contemporary lives.

Getting back to the plane! I imagine its destination. Who are the passengers seated beside one another, exchanging stories about their lives for the duration of the flight, perhaps never to cross paths again. Maybe there is an individual going to the bedside of an ill family member or to the funeral of a close friend or relative and who does not wish to make conversation.  Families going on holidays; children excited at the thought of building sandcastles at the beach in some unknown sunny coastal place – what an adventure for them.

Couples heading off on their dream honeymoon looking forward to the prospect of basking in the sun or strolling about the ramparts of some medieval castle.

Perhaps there is someone travelling for business rather than pleasure. Anxious about the presentation that lies ahead; the words , the sentences, the paragraphs going around in the head over and over so much so that it becomes a series of mumbo jumbo! Or another could be reading an important report, the focal point for an imminent meeting.

Together in a confined space, sharing stories about their world, their destination – a place that is unknown for some, a place to explore, a new adventure. Maybe a place that another is returning to for the umpteenth time, a place that holds little or no secrets, although I find that difficult to believe. Places are full of secrets, streets and buildings that have seen and heard the joys and sorrows of those who have passed though them…

Really, it is time for bed, even though I don’t feel tired; sleep will come now that I’ve written these few words… Good night!

I wrote this post last night but didn’t upload it until morning!