Sunday 22 September 2019

Summer's light brings stolen moments

Summer gives us bonus time which would otherwise be wasted indoors
Summer gives us bonus time which would otherwise be wasted indoors

You can't beat stolen moments. I woke up at half five this morning out of a television nightmare. It's a variation on a Leaving Cert nightmare, where you are just about to go on live TV and you haven't a clue what's going on or what you're supposed to do.

I wasn't getting back to sleep and it was broad daylight outside so I got up and went to the sea. There were one or two others there but it was largely all mine. I drove back along traffic-less streets watching all the other people who were out early putting their stamp on the day. And I felt slightly elated to again be part of this tribe who get up early and own the world. We get this extra special usage out of it before everyone else emerges. We see it at its best, the sun coming up, the air clear and unused.

I've been having stolen moments with the elder child too. She was off school for a week so we got into the habit of heading out to the seafront in the evenings. She likes the exercise machines out there. So we start at one end of the promenade where her favourite machines are, the ones you hang off. Then we go down it, stopping off at all the machines, and then back up, again stopping at all the machines.

She scoots, so I've taken to jogging along with her. I'm even thinking I might take up running. People seem to get a great sense of freedom out of it. I do a little bit on the machines with her as well. It has me wondering should I take up the gym. We detour out on to the sand when we can, to climb the walls of the old baths.

We have sporadic little chats about the things on her little mind, but mostly we just focus on doing these little tasks. It's 45 minutes or so by the time all our little rituals are done. And home we go, tired and happy and buzzed up from fresh air.

And you think to yourself, why don't we do this all the time? Why does it need to be perfect weather, and no school in the morning?

But of course it is the light that causes these things, these stolen moments. The light gives us back the mornings and the evenings. So we have this time to step out of our routines and steal a bit of extra life. I've even been getting a bit of a dip in the sea in the evenings. The water seems warmer after a fine day, and the blue light is haunting and beautiful and spooky.

These beginnings and ends of days are what the summer gives us, bonus time that would otherwise be wasted indoors, watching TV or doing nothing much. And I feel an urgency about using them. Because who knows how many summers we have left? So I'm trying to say yes to the lure of the light.

It strikes me that all of us who are out in the mornings in the air, or who are getting out for a quick evening benediction in the sea, are religious types. But it is paganism or pantheism. They are out communing with their god by immersing in him.

No doubt some of them profess to worship a regular god - but this is clearly how she manifests to them, in this vast world around Dublin Bay, with its big skies and the Poolbeg chimneys as a sort of North Star. We have even taken the incinerator into the face of our god now. You can't let it ruin everything, can you? So just accept it.

We drove past it when I was trying to get the child into the idea of walking out the South Wall into the sea and then back along it with that incredible view of Dublin in the evening light. But it's too uneven to scoot, so she didn't want to do it. She is fussy about her religious practices.

As we passed the incinerator close up, she asked me, all inquisitive in the front next to me, "Why does it have to be so beautiful looking?" And I told her that god works in mysterious ways, and I held our stolen moments preciously to me.

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