Sunday 14 January 2018

Well met by tideline

Saturday was a drizzly mizzly dreich sort of a day after a night of persistent rain. We had planned to set off for the Waterford coast but as I drove down our lane I noticed that the drain was worryingly full of debris from the previous rains. Accordingly, I turned round, got into my cruddiest clothes, and spent a dirty sludgy hour shovelling out the drain, so that I could sleep quieter at night: if the drain backs up in a storm, the lane disappears down the hill.  The delay meant we didn't arrive Down the Déise until after dark. But that's okay, I've stolen time for some beach-bliss on the Waterford Coast before. Sunday, low tide was at a civilised 10am and sunrise was at 0830, so I was down on the beach in time to watch the sun boiling out the sea as I walked over the headland to Trá na mBo aka The Secret Beach where I had the honour to swap quotes with Senator O'Sullivan in 2016.  I had the merest twinge of disappointment when I noticed footprints on the palimpsest of the beach but barrelled straight up to the perp and asked what his obsession was - because the was no dog in evidence.

It turned out that, like Keiran Russell cited above and George O'Mahony, whom I met at Benvoy strand a tuthree years ago, the chap on Trá na mBo was another photographer, who had driven 150km from Wicklow to capture the light with his camera. He was determined to escape from the shackles of his business as a graphic designer and get in some work-life balance. That meant leaving home, wife and kiddies in the small hours in a blanket of fog and heading South for beaches and headlands which he'd never seen before. To say he was delighted with himself would be this year's understatement. He couldn't stop gabbing about the light, its reflections, the wet pebbles and the wisps of cloud. I was only trying to establish that, by scarfing up some buoys and rope, I wasn't queering his pitch. And indeed, I did discover an unliftable tangled hank of monofilament fish-net with floaty-rope at the top and lead-shot rope at the foot but I couldn't salvage much.

Round the corner in the car-park at Bunmahon Strand, I saw another young chap earnestly scanning the sea, shading his eyes from the still brutal-bright low-slung sun. He also had come a long way that morning - 80km from Enniscorthy; and also left a wife back home in the bed. He was there for the waves and was only mildly disappointed that there was a fresh on-shore wind. Surfers prefer the wind to act against the incommming waves. "But hey, I've got a real thick wet-suit, I'm just going to get out there before the sun goes in" . . . and so I left him to it.

I've noted before that in contrast to Seamus Heaney's Irish proverb "Man to the hills, woman to the shore", men have  a dangerous fascination with water. But my third recent tideline encounter was with a woman, only a bit younger than me, whom I met scanning the sands of Annestown beach with a metal detector. I'm a youtube 'expert' in that hobby so I suggested that all she'd find would be bottle tops and ring-pulls. I was right! She too was delighted to be on the beach escaping from the day-to-day. She was also delighted with her new toy which she had received form he husband for Christmas in fulfillment of a long unrequited desire. I suggested that the desire might be on her husband's side: while she was away with the sea-breeze combing her hair, he could be undisturbed at home watching the darts.  I was almost right there too . . . "It's soccer, actually" she corrected me.

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