Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford
Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

The last few days have been absolutely gorgeous here in Tramore and I’ve been taking full advantage of the friendly sea for swimming.

The water hasn’t lost much heat since last Summer and there’s a perfect sun-trap under the wall down at beach.

Swimming in the sea is one of my major addictions. I just love the freedom of running into the waves with nothing between me and the endless horizon.

I’ve never studied ‘mindfulness’ but I know that there is nowhere like the sea to bring me right into the very heart of the moment. It’s a place that demands every single ounce of my attention. Day dream for a second and a big wave comes and splashes me on the face as if to say: Hey, you’re here now, Water Baby. Wake up!

The energy of sea just feeds my whole system and I simply adore the after-glow and surge of energy as I get dressed and bounce home with a true sense of being alive.

People often stop and stare as if I’m some sort of freak who wants to live in a freezer; or they often use the word ‘brave.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. I need the sea; I crave it. I always have and I just hope that there will never be a time when I can’t manage to somehow soak in it.


Stepping Out for Inspiration

Before Composing a Syllable
Before Composing a Syllable

There are times when  I seriously doubt my sanity and those doubts came in massive waves the other morning when I went for the two hour walk around Tramore Beach on what was the most bitterly cold morning we’ve had in years.

I just couldn’t resist it and was heartened by a teenage memory of walking on Baltray Beach, Co. Louth with my father when our faces were battered by the hardest, cruelest hailstones that ever fell from the sky! It was a day we laughed about right up until he died over half a century later.

As I huddled into the wind, determined I would never tell anyone I’d gone for this mad walk, I doubled back to take a second look at a chair which someone had lodged securely against the elements and which was obviously a special place for him/her. It was at the half-way point where one walks up the ‘channel’ towards the Backstrand.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

That chair brought me to this poem from one of my poetic heroes, Billy Collins. It’s a poem that I read over and over and is one which never fails to inspire me.

Advice to Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Billy Collins

(Source: Billy Collins, 2000,  Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes: Selected Poems, Picador)

Writing from the Heart
Writing from the Heart

Time and Tide Wait for No Man ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 105

I found  myself thinking about the saying, Time and Tide wait for no man, with which I grew up and came to wonder about its origins. I had always assumed that it fell from the pen of William Shakespeare but it seems it goes way back. My searches brought me to King Canute (c.985-1035).

I was stunned to find that King Canute was a real person because when I was eight I was cast as said king in a school play. That came as a major shock as I was very new to the school and I think I was given the lead role far more out of trying to get me integrated than because of any hunch that I was a child prodigy heading for Hollywood. Let’s put it this way, I was never in a school play after that!

The only part of the play that I remember was standing as King Canute at the edge of the stage trying to push back the rushing waves which were my classmates dressed in blue and white.

The single line I recall is:

Although I’m king, not a single thing is ever done to please me.

Being a real sea urchin, I often find myself  standing on the shores of beaches here in Co, Waterford and thinking of the extraordinary power of the sea as well as its regularity in terms of the ebb and flow of the tide.

The Ebbing Tide at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
The Ebbing Tide at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

As a  year round sea swimmer, I’ve learned that there are just some things in life, including the sea, which require that we adjust to their timetables and moods.

The further I move away from being that innocent eight-year-old, I think that the flexibility demanded by nature is something that we probably need to extend  to a far greater extent than we often realise to other human beings.  I suppose the word I’m looking for is ‘understanding.’