It’s been too long since I walked by the sea. And the other morning, the sun was shining and I thought yes, I’ll take a day off and go to the sea. Shades of truancy as I head to the bus stop but once I reach town everyone I speak to is so nice – the man in the Post Office, the man in a little Turkish bakery I discover, selling feta wraps & coffee, and then when I get to the beach, the two guys letting people into the public toilets (thank goodness for the loos, after drinking coffee). You should have a tip jar I say, trying to give them coins but they refuse, no no they say, we’re open every day.
Sunlight on my face, and the sound of the sea, the tide is coming in and the air is so fresh and everyone smiles and I look around at the dazzling light and it’s as if I have escaped to another world. It’s hardly unfamiliar, I have known this coast all my life, but it looks brand new today. So long spent at the desk at home, and walks close to home, this feels like freedom, sunlight and walking by the sea. The firmness of the sand just at the edge of the waves, where it has been washed over and over, smooth and soft and solid underfoot.
This is the first step I think, the next one will be to a coast further away, and after that – after that is still unimaginable, but there are memories of Croatian coastal paths, the Adriatic whipped into peaks and rough waves by the bora, and Greek paths, stony and windless, bordered by pomegranate trees …
On the bus home I read an article in The New European about the photographer Robert Doisneau (born April 14 1912). Towards the end of his life he wrote “Some days the mere fact of seeing feels like perfect happiness. You feel as if you’re floating along. The policeman stops the traffic to let you across and you feel so rich you want to share your jubilation with others, you have more than enough for yourself.”
That’s how it was today.
Two sea-related poems I read recently.
From Imogen Forster’s new collection The Grass Boat (Mariscat Press)
From Richie McCaffery’s latest pamphlet Coping Stones (Fras Publications)
Light and stonework reflected in the windows of a Georgian building.
From gaps between tall buildings a geometry of light thrown across the road.