I was fortunate enough to be able to walk the 8km around Tramore Beach early this morning and on my way back I came to the row of old railway sleepers that are on the Back Strand – that is behind the sand dunes away from the sea.
I stopped, as I often do, to feel them and just admire the worn wood. I realised as I stood there that these bits of wood symbolise my precious Tramore to me more than practically anything else. I have loved them since I was a tiny kid and I think I would recognise them anywhere no matter what context they were presented in.
So often, it is little incidental things that burn their way into our hearts as opposed to the much more obvious. Just one glimpse at the sleepers and I can feel everything about the beach that is my darling place.
As the days lengthen, Tramore Beach draws lots of families with young children for some before-bed play time. Often you just see fathers and sons or maybe it’s just me that sees fathers and sons because when son, Harry, was young, he and his father used to go down to the beach and play hurling until it was beyond dark.
Hurling is a BIG sport in Co. Waterford and the beach is a great place for ‘pucking around.’
The other night I spotted this little chap with his father and I wondered if I will be cheering him on to All-Ireland glory with the rest of Waterford in a few years. Even if he doesn’t make the big time, I’ve no doubt that these nights will give him an enduring love of hurling, sea air and a sense of endless dusk that is part of childhood:
One of my very favourite times of the day is when I can sense that my Dad is getting nearer and nearer on his way home from work. I do everything in my power to get up onto the sofa so that I can have a good view out the sitting-room window and be there to welcome him before he’s even in the front door.
He never, ever fails to meet my eyes and smile in at me and then I race out and meet him when he comes into the hall.
You might think that these reunions get boring but they don’t ~ in fact they get better and better everyday cos I’m learning to read what kind of a day he’s had and if he wants a gentle nuzzle or a bit of rough and tumble.
We have our little time together and it matters to me more than I could ever tell you. He loves me as much as I love him and I’ve come to learn, too, that he likes to have ‘home’ time with me so that he can unwind in a way that’s not about anything except happiness to see each other.
He doesn’t know about all the hopping and jumping I do on the sofa while I’m waiting for him but that doesn’t matter, does it, as long as we get to share that ‘together againness’ every evening in the special way that we’ve developed it.
Lots of love,
P.S. Here’s how Tramore Beach was looking today. Imagine I was able to be racing around there while Dad was working. It’s a dog’s life alright!
I guess everyone has days in the year, like my January 4th/5th, that have the mark of grief on them no matter how much time passes.
I’d like to thank everyone who listened to my words about Seeking Solace yesterday and a special word of gratitude to those who wrote such empathetic comments.
I don’t believe that time, in itself, is the great healer that we hear so much about. Rather, it’s a combination of how that time unfolds and how we ourselves shape it, that is hugely significant.
And, there is no doubt that everyone is different in how they deal with loss and the same person may deal with different losses in very diverse ways. You just can’t generalise when it comes to grief, it seems.
Ever since J died in 1981, I’ve woken in the middle of the night at the time he died. That morning, I stole out to a beach we loved, saw the most beautiful sunrise and got a sense of his mental strength pouring into me. It was one of those other worldly kind of experiences and I’m certainly not about ‘other worlds.’
So, it didn’t surprise me to wake in the very early hours this morning. I got up, took Stan for a good walk and then went off to watch the new day dawn over the sea.
It wasn’t a spectacular sunrise but every dawning has its drama.
There were lots of seagulls around and I couldn’t take my eyes off this pair:
The gulls were a delight to watch as they wheeled about in the unfolding light. The two pairs of gulls in this next shot; one pair away in the distance and the other much closer, made me think of the interplay between past and present and the importance of knowing that a new partner respects and understands the baggage that each brings to a relationship:
Sunset never meant a thing to me on the 5th of January until today. At some kind of subconscious level, I think I felt that the sun had set when J breathed his last and that January 5th couldn’t have two sunsets.
So, it was that I brought Stan out to Garrarus Beach this evening and wasn’t even aware that it was sunset time and didn’t have a camera with me. What greeted us there was one of the deepest, sweetest sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. There was a young woman on the beach, walking her dogs, and I noticed that she was taking photographs. We fell into chat about the magic we were part of and agreed that we’d never seen a sunset like this one before, even though we discovered that we’re both absolute regulars.
I was surprised when I heard myself asking her if she would email me a photograph of that special sunset. She very generously agreed and about an hour later, six photos arrived! Here’s the pair I like best.
And how about this for intensity?
So, January 5th now has a sunset again after 35 years and a new bond has been made with another Woman of the Sea here in Co. Waterford.
It just goes to show that grief days can evolve into days emblazoned with colour and new beginnings.
I’d be more than interested to hear about your ‘grief days’ and how they’ve evolved.
New Year’s Eve is one of the most significant days of the year and I can remember practically of them from when I was very young. That New Year’s Eve party that we had when I was twelve ~ I’ll never know if the midnight kiss was a ‘real’ kiss ~ I’m sure it was. It has to have been. Neil Diamond was big that year but it was posters of Jimi Hendrix that adorned the walls and looked great through the dim light of the bulbs my brother painted dark red.
Starting work as a Pantry Girl in a Dublin Hospital on a freeeeezing cold New Year’s Eve in 1979 and being ticked off severely for parking my bike in the Reception area ~ what else was I to do with it??
The New Year’s Eve in 1980 which marked the last day that my beloved boyfriend, who died from cancer, was able to sit up with me in front of the fire. He had only 5 more days to live.
Flying to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve in 1983 for a three month stint ~ a whole new beginning …..
The New Year’s Eve when I was pregnant ~ full of anticipation of what early Summer 1995 would bring.
New Year’s Eves ringing Mother and Dad on the stroke of midnight ~ knowing that they would still be up and expecting the phone to ring.
And this New Year’s Eve ~ filled with memories, wonderment and Wishing Stones.
The sea gulls were all excited in when Stanny and I were out in Kilfarrassy at noon:
We just had to stop to gaze at this wondrous horse looking towards 2016:
The back road from Waterford to Tramore (the Ballinamona Road) ~ always catches me with its beauty and it was full of questions about comings and goings today and, indeed, it begged me to just STOP and take it all in:
Time to witness the last sunset of 2015 and it had to be from Tramore Beach ~ my beach:
Harry and I are just back from casting the Wishing Stones. We chatted, we laughed, we picked the stones ever so carefully, we laughed, smiled, I shed a few tears, we hugged, we cast the Wishing Stones, we remembered, we wished and we were together ~ mother and son.
I promise I cast a stone for everyone who asked me to. I picked them as well as I possibly could and I hope, hope, hope that they help your wishes come true. I decided to cast one for everyone in blogland, ‘cos everyone, everywhere must have a special memory and/or wish.
Softly calmly, immensity taps at your life.(Jane Hirshfield)
There was space in my life today so I seized the chance to take what may be my last walk around the beach in Tramore for 2015. It was overcast, misty, windy and wet but I loved every single step of it.
There was a real sense of in-betweenness about the walk ~ these last days before a whole new year opens up in front of us.
I couldn’t but think of the old year leaving the stage when as I watched this gull taking flight:
And this man trudging homeward in the soft sand down by the end of the beach was yet another symbol of the departing year:
It was round by the Backstrand that I got a sense of the new corners and undulations that lie ahead:
But all the while, there were gems of the sea shore to keep me firmly grounded in the present moment:
More than anything, the old railway sleepers that are so much a part of the Back Strand in Tramore made me think of both continuity and change as they gleamed in the dull light:
What or where are YOUR symbols of the in-betweenness of the old year and beginning of the new?
The changing of the clocks to Winter-time fills me with absolute dread every year as all I can see lying ahead is dull, dank, dark, dismality. This year was no exception and I basically bid a fond farewell to all colour last Saturday afternoon with the clocks set to fall back at 2am on Sunday morning.
The week that has unfolded has shocked me with the colour that has danced on the beaches in and around me here in Tramore.
It all started at sunrise on Sunday morning when I went down to the beach in a state of total confusion about what time it really was:
Each day has brought moments of pure sensual bliss,
and absolute hope:
I hope your week has given you good reason to look forward and to see every colour, including black, as having a beauty all of its own.
We’ve had very little pure light here in the South-East of Ireland in recent weeks. It’s been as if the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ has been seeking to have it all her own way.
The country woke in a state of dejection this morning trying to shake off the effects of the horrible defeat by the the flowing Argentinians in the Rugby World Cup. (I knew nothing whatsoever about Argentina before this week except the overwhelming natural brilliance of Gabriella Sabatini and Diego Maradona ~ magical duo that should have been enough to forewarn me.)
So it started as a ‘one foot in front of the other’ kind of day:
But, as the new day unfolded, there were signs that nature was striving to lighten our spirits. I simply had to follow the opening sky and it brought me to the Anne Valley in Dunhill for my morning run. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by the clatter of horses hooves on the road beneath Dunhill Castle. Instinctive thoughts of The Highwayman, The Listeners …..
The light danced on the cinder path of the Anne Valley Walk and there was a softness that made running seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Dunhill Village called at noon where the Church bells rang out and the local dogs sang along:
No possibility of resisting a call to Harney’s Shop
for a blaa (Co. Waterford bread roll) and some of their home-cooked ham:
Perfect day for a swim at Annestown Beach in the heat of the midday sun:
‘One foot in front of the other’ took on a whole new meaning on the golden sands of the Co. Waterford Coast.
The clarity and magnificence of the day lasted right up to sunset and beyond.