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February 6, 2014

Cloudfall. c. K McDonnell

Cloudfall. c. K McDonnell

It’s been a month of storms since I last posted on readwritehere. Mea culpa for my absence.

I live in limestone country – a great conductor of lightning. Twice I’ve been at work on the PC and the power has shut off. Fortunately, I didn’t lose anything important. Other nights, I’ve been awakened by the wind battering hail against the bedroom window. Then I’ve heard a slight bip! as the phone cut out. I’ve still been awake when a rude beeeeeep! signalled that the phone was ‘back’.

The land is saturated. Two routes are cut off from Ballyvaughan into Ennis and Gort. As I drove home last night via Corofin, after visiting my parents in Ennis, it looked like the water was about to come out on that road too. If that happens over the next few days the only way to Ennis will be via Ennistymon, or to go north to the N18 and then travel south again.

But I don’t have land, waiting to dry out before it can be planted or ready for the heavy tread of cattle. I don’t have feed sitting beside cattle sheds in danger of flood damage. I don’t have to get children to school through fields because the roads are closed or just plain destroyed.

Yes the sea came in, curious, to the front door last week. And left seaweed in the front garden for the second time in a month. Still, Bessa the Cat and I have dry paws…unlike some of my neighbours up the road, who were invaded by seawater as it breached the pier and sea wall.

The Flaggy Shore in New Quay had a road. It is now a road of sea boulders, each one beautifully rounded, in varying shades of grey. It looks like a Famine Road that refused to die or seep back into history; disavowing all offer of comforting moss and softening grass. It’s just one of many roads up and down the West coast that has been sea-altered. Blown about.

When Seamus Heaney died, one of the poems that was quoted, and indeed played on radio – often readings by Heaney himself – was Postscript. It refers to the Flaggy Shore. These are the final lines:

‘You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open ‘

Sometimes, it is not the wind that catches us. Rather, it is listening to that forceful thing as it comes tearing over the mountain, with its own mountain-scraping voice…howling down the curves and through the ash trees – pronged into the sky – and BANG! up against a window. It’s our imaginings and fears that catch us. Strange things pass indeed, and we blow ourselves open.

Or a phone call comes, unexpected: catching us off guard, and our hearts with it. And we are blown open.

There’s many a make of storm. As our hearts well know.

At the back of a storm is a kind of light. Trying to be itself.

And that will do.

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