The lightness of being on a deserted North Beach
Back on the beach. The tide is but a distant swoooosh, a faintly pulsing thrum that draws you in to listen for its intermittent soothing surges. The light is low and the air is grey and heavy but throbbing high and low with trills, tweets, warbles and whistles.
The sounds are coming from every direction and none in this sweeping quadrophonic soundscape. So bracing, so full and so invigorating.
The sand scrunches pleasingly beneath my feet as I make for a low square, perfect sitting rock.
The acrid whiff and tang of sea air assails my nostrils in such a good way. Breathe it in, sucking it up, up, up until it fills my skull and permeates my very being. The ultimate saline solution!
The oscillating breeze slyly insinuates itself against my cheekbones, like the intimate breath of some invisible creature, swirling sinuously down my ear canals to tap out a soft roll of the sea on my ear drums.
The oh so bearable lightness of just being. Hearing, seeing, tasting, touching and feeling.
A sudden cawing from high behind my left shoulder makes me smile. My friend the crow is having his say too. The Irish name préachán comes to mind and an old Irish kids song, Préachán, Préachán (pronounced pray-a-kawn). What a wonderfully onomatopoeic rendition of the name. Those guttural consonants and the drawn out e and a.
My dad used to say: “It takes all kinds to make a world, and they are all in it, son”. Even Mr Crow.
The crow figures a lot in Irish myth and legend, even if he is rarely the hero of the piece. Celtic and Irish goddesses were believed to appear in the form of a crow or a raven, gathering over the battlefields, where they would feed on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Also, seeing a raven or a crow before going into a battle gave a sense of foreboding and meant that the army would be defeated
Then, of course, there’s the vain bird up in the tree with a fine lump of cheese in his beak. The fox is down on the ground conniving how to get the cheese so he flatters the bird into “singing”, telling him what an exquisite singing voice he has. The crow opens his beak to show off and drops the cheese …
Crows are upfront, feisty characters, no airs or graces as they bustle about on their their honest, unfussy foraging. Unabashed and unashamed of their less than dulcet tones, they seem to know who they are, what they are, and they’re just fine with it. They would even crow about it.
Half way across the North Beach a wonderfully discordant honking symphony abruptly strikes up as a group of some kind of ducks take to the air en masse and flap off into the great wherever. I’m conscious that I know the names of so few birds and creatures but kindly remind myself I’m not here to write a list. Just to listen and enjoy it.
I can’t help feeling I’ve been missing this, this easeful immersion in nothing and everything. Being alive. Nature is providing the music and the ambience and I’m here on my rock composing a few lines to go with my sense impressions. That’s all but it’s all I need right now.
Dull and all as the actual vista is, it doesn’t matter because I am feeling good inside. Satiated.
Some days you have to seek out these sacred places, and sometimes you were already there and just hadn’t noticed.
I feel like a musician who had lost the beat but has found it again in the best way: without looking, just cocking an ear and sliding back into the piece when good and ready. Rock on universe!
— Enda Sheppard