I’m back on the North Beach. The tide is a distant swo-o-o-o-sh, a pulsing thrum drawing me in to listen to its soothing surges.
The light is low and the sky grimly grey but it vibrates with trills and shrieks.
Seabirds are surfing the sky and the wooing wind plays its part too in this live quadrophonic soundscape. You’re in it, part of it.
The sand scrunches satisfactorily underfoot as I make for a perfect sitting rock.
The whiff and tang of sea air assails my nostrils … breathing it in, sucking it up, up, up until it fills my skull and my very being. The ultimate saline solution!
The oscillating breeze insinuates itself against my cheekbones, like the intimate breath of an invisible lover, winding itself around my body, swirling sinuously through my ear canals to tap out a soft roll of the sea on my eardrums.
The oh so bearable lightness of just being.
A sudden cawing from high behind my left shoulder makes me smile. My friend the crow is having his say too.
The Irish name for crow, préachán (pronounced pray-a-kawn) comes to mind and an old Irish kids song, Préachán, Préachán. What a wonderfully onomatopoeic 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 planning 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 forage away. 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.
Halfway across the beach, a wonderfully discordant honking symphony strikes up as a group of some kind of ducks takes 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 enjoy it.
I can’t help feeling I’ve been missing this easeful immersion in the nothing and the everything. Separate and discrete, yet part of something vast.
Nature is providing the music and the ambiance, and I’m here on my rock putting a few lines to my sense impressions. That’s all but it’s all I need right now.
The blue of sky and sea, green and grey of cliff and beige of beach have been rinsed and bleached as they meld into the encroaching early evening dusk, but inside all is bright and vivid. I am indulged and gratified.
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: just cocking an ear and sliding back into the piece when good and ready.
Rock on universe!
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