In Presentation, Production on April 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm
This is a map of its route. It began, as an idea perhaps, in Augsburg in 1678. The idea container became a brewer of beer. I would have liked that. He didn’t. And so, the idea and its container went north, through heavily forested country and farmland, over the Donau, to Nuremburg, where Johann Homann taught him to engrave.
He returned to Augsburg with the skill but it wouldn’t be till 1744, towards the end of his life, that the idea would find expression on paper. From there who knows how many journeys, how many copies, how many owners, till in the latter half of the 20th century it was picked up in an antique shop in Dublin, Ireland and found a home with us in leafy Lucan.
Since then it has been restless. Before long it was gracing walls in Madrid, baking in the summer heat of Spain’s central meseta. After that a return to blustery Ireland, to Dublin, then Dundalk. It crossed the Irish Sea by boat and might have settled in the gently rolling country of Hampshire, England. But it wasn’t to be.
It would have satisfied the container, I think, to see his idea take its longest trip yet, over the blue curve of the Atlantic to the New World. More
In Plenary, Production on March 16, 2012 at 11:51 am
Across the rippled silver sand and down to the water, the sky vaulting above me and teeming with stars. I can see the band of moist sand before my feet get wet; a strip of shine where the waves wash in.
I’ve been to this spot before but not at this time. It’s a second viewing; the kind of revelatory glimpse of a place you only get once you’ve seen it a thousand times, and then see it anew. Out in front of me a succession of cargo ships navigate the Straits, twinkling like a chain of fairy lights.
Beyond them the fainter flickering of Tangier, its lighthouse and medina. And spanning my field of vision from the Isla de Palomas on my left to the huge dune up at Valdevaqueros on my right, the black Atlantic. Sand, water, lights; the world is made of these long horizontal layers and of the noise the waves make.
And of the vertical sky. Orion stands over me, high in the sky and dead ahead. When I first knew K we would stand out back of the house we shared in Dublin and I would point it out to her; Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak, the three stars of his belt; Hatsya, the tip of his sword. She would humor me by listening. It was the only constellation I could see from our yard that I could name. More
In Presentation, Production on October 5, 2011 at 9:22 am
The Cory’s Shearwater. A compact and aerodynamic sea bird with greyish brown colouring and a distinctive white, dark trimmed underwing. There’s a little valley that slopes down to Tarifa town from the hills behind it and the skies above the valley are packed with them. There are many more than I’ve ever noticed before – more even than the ever present gulls it would seem. At first I imagine that they’re back in this part of the world for winter having spent summer further north. A little reading later and I realise that they are not arriving; they are gathering for departure.
The Shearwater doesn’t have a north-south migration pattern. They summer in the Mediterranean (and why wouldn’t they?) nesting in the cliffs of the sea’s many islands and in the winter they migrate to the Atlantic, fanning out in every direction – some of them as far north as the coasts of Ireland and Britain. Rotten choices for a winter getaway if you ask me but who am I to speak? This year, I’ll be following them.
For birds migration is life; life is migration. They’re rather good at it. Routes are well established and pinpoint timing is instinctive. There are no questions. You don’t hear about any dissent in the ranks; anti-migration movements or campaigns for a sedentary lifestyle for example. With the approval of the people at Nike, they just do it. They live it. More
In Plenary, Practice, Presentation on October 29, 2010 at 8:07 am
It began as it ends, with Africa.
K’s words as we walk away from the little grave. We have chosen a spot high in the hills overlooking Tarifa, the Gibraltar Straits and the African coast. There’s only the one road into Tarifa so this way we will pass her every day, and can say Hi. She won’t be alone.
A few years ago K got a notion to go to Africa and travel overland from Nairobi to Cape Town. It was important to her to get out there and do something for herself that took her outside her comfort zone and to see something of the non-European world. It may partially have been a response to my own travel experiences, which I had possibly mentioned once or twice. More
In Plenary on August 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm
If there was something missing from this blog so far, with its focus on our move to Spain, life in Andalucia and the little town of Tarifa, it was a post about County Donegal in North West Ireland. Did you spot that? Consider the issue addressed.
We had always wanted to go to Donegal – K had never been and I only had the dimmest childhood memories. With our move imminent we finally got out there a couple of weekends ago. It would be our last chance to do it for a while – and I’m all about last chances – so off we went. More