In Practice, Production on September 13, 2013 at 8:04 am
For protection from the brutal winds that blast the hills around Tarifa, the little homesteads that stud the slopes are invariably planted with something to surround them and take the brunt – some tall, bamboo-like grasses or a bank of prickly pear cactus. This evening these peripheries glow golden in the setting sun and so does the surrounding country as it descends from the high road to the shore below. I look down on it all from the bus window.
On the African coast Jebel Musa, Hercules’ southern pillar, peeks out from the murk of a marine layer and a few paltry tufts of cloud drift across the summit. Over Spanish soil the clouds are just as small and disparate but dirtier, full of rain. Above all that the sky is the tired blue of an ageing day. A lone vulture circles on this side of the strait – side to side and up and down through all the elements of the view, owning all of them. As it banks the sun catches its wings.
I’m on the bus because I’m back at work after a long and humid summer, but for all the mundane humdrummery of another working year, it does deliver this daily gift – the descent into the little pueblo that sits at Europe’s southernmost point, warmly lit by a yawning, westbound sun.
The winding mountain road straightens out as it slides toward the town and the vistas open up: the gleaming, endless Atlantic to my right, the Strait and Mediterranean to my left, Morocco dead ahead More
In Presentation, Production on March 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm
So I’m ambling down towards the Batalla de Salado a few days ago, all headphones and shades, when one of those hoppy things (cricket, grasshopper, whatever) collides with the side of my face. I wouldn’t think anything of it, to be honest, if it wasn’t the size of a trout; as it is I almost fall over.
Hours later, I will still be reeling.
By the time I recover awareness of my surroundings sufficiently to continue on my way, I am in the middle of a pedestrian crossing and surrounded by tooting car horns.
I’ll be on the alert from now on, I’ll tell you that.
It was flying, actually; not hopping. It had these ridiculously under-sized wings that just about kept it airborne, though not in a dignified way. I doubt it chose to smack me in the face. It didn’t really look like it had a great many choices at its disposal, trajectory wise.
Here’s a question. It’s for both creationists and evolutionists. Play nice, though.
Anyway, it’s this; More
In Presentation, Production on June 14, 2011 at 8:30 am
Browns, burnt reds, creamy golden whites – the colours of the closed eye. I’m on my back and K is beside me, lying on a bed of pine needles and crunchy dried leaves. I open them as a black beetle bustles past a bottle of sunblock at the base of a tree trunk. Layers of world; our soft bed a lifetime of confines and cavities for it to clamber over and through.
It doesn’t know the world above it that we inhabit – the regularly spaced trees like columns in a brown basilica. The air is cool, streaked with rays of sunlight and dusted with buzzing insects. Above us, if I raise my head and look sideways, a different space – brighter and higher; a world of virile greens, the blue of the sky breaking through here and there.
If I lay my head back down on the forest floor I can look up at and somehow out onto yet another space. A vast and ferociously lit universe. The very tips of the trees and above them the glaring void. The extremity of the light, the sheer difference in the strength of it as it falls on things up there bathes them in the same strangeness things have when seen underwater. It is a quiet world today – none of the usual air-and-leaf laments; “windstill”, K calls it. More
In Plenary, Production on June 8, 2011 at 9:02 am
Poulshone, County Wexford; Ireland‘s sunny south east. Usually that’s a comparative term and somewhat misleading but not this year – the hottest summer anyone can remember.
The hottest since ’47 in fact.
I’m sitting on a patch of beachgrass and shading my eyes as I look across a dune at the little house with the cool-tiled, sand-strewn floor. That’s where I need to get. It is Aisling’s house, or Samantha’s or whatever her name was.
Dad is still alive.
The arc of sky above me is polarised by memory; an impossibly deep, dark blue – the expanses of sand below it a blinding white. Seurat style dots of other colour in the distance; tiny swimsuits wavering in the heat where sand sinks beneath water. Buckets, spades, armbands and inflatables; orange, pink, yellow – shark shapes and crumbling castles.
An ice cream afternoon. More
In Presentation on April 12, 2011 at 10:07 am
The levante has been blowing for days. It keeps us all inside and dusts the town in a fine sand. Kites are grounded. Bars are quiet and restaurants don’t bother with terrace tables. Noisy fronds flap horizontally from leaning palms along the street that descends into Tarifa from the highway. It’s like a ghost town, complete with howling.
Wind has names. According to where it comes from it is the levante – a gentle wind that rises around the Balearic Islands in a Mediterranean stupor and then reaches gale force in these Straits, the sirocco – a hurricane of sand from the sahara, the ostro – a warm and rainy Adriatic breeze, the libeccio that pummels Corsican summers, the poniente that blows in through the Straits from the west and keeps the kitesurfers aloft, the mistral of France and its southern shores and the tramontane which blows in over mountains from the north like a cold barbarian. More