Tuesday, March 24, 2009


#83, Sandymount, Dublin

A walk along a coastal road is a serious challenge for anyone who wishes to do anything other than daydream. There's a reason Stephen Dedalus gets all "ineluctable modality of the visible" on our arse when he walks along Sandymount Strand in Ulysses. On a cold, sunny, windy day in January, I found myself walking through Irishtown and then continuing along until I found myself walking along the sea. It wasn't anything I planned. It just happened that way.

There are two choices you can take as you walk along the Beach Road as it winds its way into the Strand Road. You can amble close to the water or stick to side with the houses. I like to look at houses and numbers, but there's joy to be had to find yourself getting splashed by rogue tides in the middle of the winter. And so you walk with the sea to your left and the city at your back and the two towering Poolbeg chimneys behind you, wandering farther down the shore toward Booterstown and Sandycove, sea gulls crying overhead and the smell of salt in the air, the sun low in the sky and the long winter shadows lighting up the grass an unreal green.

The walkway along the water was sparsely populated. A cluster of well-heeled men and women draped in anti-recession black walked by with paper coffee cups on their lunch breaks. Women with ponytails and loping dogs passed the time. A few lone figures cut striking shadows as they gazed out pensively across the water. There was one man with white hair in dark suit and bowler hat who looked like a cross between Robyn Hitchcock and W.B. Yeats. You watched them all from a bench and looked out over the incoming tide, shivering in the wind and eating a buttery croissant you'd smuggled from the restaurant, trying to tell yourself this, against all evidence to the contrary, was some kind of summer and you had to make it last.


Jackie said...

lovely writing!!

Have you read the Frank McCourt memoirs? This post calls them back to me though I'm not quite sure why (save the obvious 'Ireland thing'.)
I met him once at NYU. His accent made me all blushy giggly.

dauntu- a minimally daunting task that is made larger by continuous complaint

Ray Gunn said...

I can almost taste the seaspray on the tiles. Not that I go around licking tiles, mind you, but it's an impression nonetheless.

tedingso - inspirational mutterings one believes he or she has not actually said aloud, but has

Pierre said...

Reading your description of walking along the shore reminded me of the Oregon coast in Winter. My wife and I would often stay at a hotel perched on a cliff and watch the rain and grey waves. It makes me cold to think of it. I once went for a walk on the beach during a storm just to experience it. I came back freezing and must have had a touch of hypothermia. It took all day to warm up.
Lots of word pictures in your story. Nice.

Panio - The art of playing melodies on cookware.

Therese Cox said...

Thanks, all. My blog has typographic pretensions but is really just a not-so-thinly-veiled excuse for me to rattle on about sea spray and pubs.

Jackie, I think McCourt's a terrific writer. I was just talking last night about how rip-roaring funny parts of "Angela's Ashes" are and how mortified this makes readers who found it so depressing it made them want to blind themselves with coal. You should read "Teacher Man" to hear about how he got sandwiches thrown at him on his first day of teaching(I sense a theme here) and how when he got to a university setting he actually missed the chaos of the NY public schools.

Ray, it's cool. You can lick the sea spray off the tiles. But you have to say that sentence in the same tone as "Shoot the wings off the fly." And then you have to say it in a crowded theatre.

Pierre, thanks. There really is something so appealing about walks along cold beaches. Family trips to Oregon and Washington were a big part of my childhood and probably shaped me more than I realize.

Therese Cox said...

Y'all are cracking me up with the word verification word definitions, by the way.

Jackie said...

Therese-- I have indeed read "Teacher Man" and affectionately recall those sandwiches. Favorite parts of "Angela's Ashes" are the descriptions of Catholicism. Hi-lar-ious.

Ray-- How, oh how do you use HTML coding in comments? I want to be able to italicize my book titles..

ushess- a female usher of especially high rank and authority

Robt P said...

In a week I'm moving to Sandymount!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Therese Cox said...

Robt - say it ain't the end of the Moyne Road! Whereabouts will you be in Sandymount? And will you be taking the "DORT" every day?

Julie said...

The WV definitions are leaving me speechless.

As did the quality of the text for #83. Vivid, comes to mind.

Except for 'There's a reason Stephen Dedalus gets all "ineluctable modality of the visible" on our arse when he walks along Sandymount Strand in Ulysses' which introduced a numb sense of incomprehension into my poor ageing brain.