From The North
I’M SITTING HERE AT A LARGE WOODEN DINING TABLE in our home for this next week. As I look out the windows what I see are waves crashing on the rocky shoreline near the village of Glencolumcille in County Donegal in the northern rural reaches of Ireland.
Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and seeing it disappear, meeting the clouds at the horizon, makes me wonder what must have gone through the minds of those people who were boarding the wooden ships to carry them to America. The Great Famine had destroyed whatever hopes they had for the future, and now they were leaving for an uncertain life on the other side of this same gray and detailess ocean. What courage and desperation it must have taken.
Dawn and I are here for the fifth week of this sabbatical pilgrimage. We have moved from a house in a museum to a house with sheep outside every window. Our last two weeks were in a condo in a village on the River Shannon. And now we are high on a bluff looking out over the ocean. But there are still sheep.
There is a beach down there and if was warmer I would haul my carcass there and throw myself on the sand – BUT – it is not going to get anywhere near warm enough to get me down there. It would have to be at least 80°, and the prediction is for maybe 65°.
When it is low tide we can see a gull flying low over the surface and then diving into the water after a tasty fish for lunch. Multiply this by dozens of gulls and it makes quite a scene.
We have learned that this part of Ireland is a Surfers Paradise. On the way here we passed through the small town of Bundoran that would look right at home in Southern California. It is filled with surfer oriented businesses – surfboards, lessons, and clothing. There is no lack of bars, cafes, and “amusement arcades,” alongside hostels, and hotels. On the way there we passed a number of cars and vans with surfboards lashed to their roofs.
Given that the water up here, in the North Atlantic, is pretty cold every surfer we see in the water is wearing a wetsuit. Otherwise we would also be seeing hospitals specializing in Hypothermia.
There aren’t any surfers at our little beach. There are some decent waves, but there are also large rocks sticking out of the water on the way in toward the sand. Not good, Dude.
I’m hoping to get some serious writing done while here, but I find myself spending too much time just sitting and staring out the windows, watching the waves come ashore. I need to shake my concentration loose from the hypnotic view and get focused on my tasks. Somehow, no matter what I manage to write while here, I think the sea, the sky, the gulls, and the water will find their way onto the page.
There is a story in those waves; I just need to learn how to decipher it.