Monday 31 October 2016

The secret beach

We were down on the Waterford Coast (again!) last weekend for a family knees-up. There is only so much dancing and eating cake that a family can pack in over a couple of days, so there was time for The Beach.  Several beaches, indeed. There was a big storm in the middle of October and I picked up two fish-boxes, a creel, and 37 medium sized orange and yellow fishing floats . . . as well as the buoy which I returned to Dunmore.  It was remarkable how, after  two weeks of mild weather, the beaches were [disappointingly] clean . . . and sandy. A storm will strip the beaches to bedrock but mild weather will restore the finer particles so that you can do some sand-art.  But walking the beach on an overcast afternoon at the tail end of October has its own intrinsic rewards, not least because normal people are safe and warm at home watching The Match on television.

The only thing worth saving on The Secret Beach [if I told you where it is, I'd have to kill you] was a 4 x 4 ft shipping pallet. I was a teeny bit embarrassed [please don't grass me up] to be discovered picking up a pallet, which I cannot claim to be a dignified way to pass time for an old chap with a proper job. It was heavy from immersion in salt-water, so I was dragging it along the strand to get it above the tide-line . . . when two women dropped off the path down the cliffs and started walking along the tide line looking for driftwood. They were gathering scoured wood to make mobiles for schoolkids. I confessed to being a buoy-man myself. From the tenor of our subsequent chat I knew I was talking to one of the Names along the coast. I thought for a while that it might be Marie "Algae" Power whom Dau.I met in August but then I twigged that I was talking with Grace Green O'Sullivan, candidate [previotrib] for the European Parliament and now "respeck, bros!" a Senator up in Dublin. I told her that her canvassing had secured the vote of Pat the Salt. Then, because I'm too often an in-mind-out-mouth blurter [why, only yesterday], I said that her election posters made her look a lot younger and how US Presidents looked haggard after 4 or 8 year in the job because politics is damned hard work. Senator O'Sullivan replied that there was so much to do [micro-plasticrefugees; climate change; freeing the gays] that it was hard to make time for the beach. But we agreed that making that time is the bedrock on which you can build a compassionate life.

I removed my hat to quote Edmund Burke "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little". Or did I mean Sydney Smith "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little." ? I've used both attributions before [Burke] - [Smith]. But I got back a beautiful quotation [from Antonio Machado - English translation]:
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar. 
How do we make our pilgrimage through life?
One step at a time, trying to do a little good, hoping not to hurt anyone.

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