Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Sky is a Happening Place

Castle Rock, Cloudy Beach
The thing about the weather on the coast of Northern Ireland, is not that it's good, bad, cold or warm, but that it changes rapidly and constantly. "Four seasons in a day," they say here. 

But it's more than about changes in temperature and precipitation. The real action is in the sky. There is drama there - a celestial theater that I could stand and watch for hours. The cloud formations, like temperamental actors rushing about the stage, appear to feed off of each other's emotions. Plots thicken. Characters develop. Tempers fly. Action builds up toward crescendos. The end of an act can be explosive, or anti-climactic. Curtains close, then open again for the next act.

Here one cloud approaches another, pressingly, entreatingly. The object of its attention demurs. Like characters in a Chekhov play, they engage in a moody, fateful struggle. Tragically but also coyly, they dance over the peak of the mountain - back and forth, back and forth, until finally they collide - turning into a different creature entirely and swooping down to swallow the mountain whole. A roar of applause.

In my winter clothes I stand on the beach of Castle Rock on a June afternoon and watch all this, my bike propped against the stone wall. There are only two colours: beige and blue. There are only two entities: sky and earth. And in the moment, this seems like all there is, or ever was, or ever will be. It is more than enough.

21 comments:

  1. Aha! Thats what a quiet place (quiet except for natural sounds...) can do to you. Sometimes it's difficult to overcome a degree of melancholia.Put me on a coastline like that and I will happily sit there watching it change all day until it gets dark...
    I an envying your current sojourn in Ireland Velouria!

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  2. I was there. Your description could not be more exact or beautiful. That sky on the West coast moved me as it did you. Thank you.

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  3. Where ocean meets mountain inevitably there is magic in the sky.

    When I rode up the Atlantic coast from Curitiba to just south of Rio, nearly every p.m. huge cumulonimbus clouds would build over the mountains to the west. I would stare oft times to my peril the spectacle

    Of course more often than not these same clouds rained like heck on us after dark. But it was worth it.

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  4. The sky is, indeed, a happening place :)

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  5. I would love to know more about the weather changes and how you deal with them when out riding all day. Do you get soaked and keep going, or carry a change of clothes? Thanks!

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    1. So far, the temperature has fluctuated from high 40s to high 60s throughout the day, with both rain and sun. The change can be quite sudden - you don't need to be on an all day ride to experience it. When I go out on my roadbike, I either wear or carry a waterproof jacket at all times, and if it looks even remotely like rain I wear overshoes (because I only have 1 pair of cycling shoes with me and they take a while to dry once soaked). Otherwise I don't do anything special. I will write about this in more detail once I am here longer.

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  6. Why Chekhov and not an Irish playwright?

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    1. Plays is plays - romanticism vs. actualite, head n the colours vs. pragmatism.

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  7. Great photo! Although the sheer expanse of sky one can see in the mountains is awe-inspiring, I think one has to go to a seacoast to see the movement you show and describe so well. Thanks!

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  8. I've done several cross country trips but the most memorable were via motorcycle and bicycle simply b/c the sky was always present, available, entertaining, humbling, and inspiring. Camping out would enhance the experience by providing night time drama and peace as well. What a wonderful planet and moving about it by bicycle is special. I can't tell you how many times I would just pull over on the roadside in order to sit and stare at the sky! Oh, wonderful, Oh wonderful!!

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  9. The colors are a nice change from the requisite green. I also love the soft light and the patterns in the sand. Did you ride your bicycle on the beach?

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    1. I did not ride it on the beach; those are car or tractor tracks.

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  10. Never been to Ireland, but having grown up on the Oregon coast I think this photo lacks in what gray can do with it's warms and cools.

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    1. Never been to Oregon. I liked the subtly of the colours on the beach ay that particular moment and took the picture. Here is a warmer sky.

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  11. What about the lovely headwinds?

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    1. The wind can be strong. Mostly it's been okay so far, except yesterday. I had such a strange experience: Trying to ride downhill, and being pushed back up by the wind. The descending felt more like climbing!

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    2. Where I live, it's west downhill from the village to the town, so that's downhill against the wind (usually), then uphill home with the wind at my back, albeit fully laden most of the time. Which isn't so bad.

      You'll get wise to the fact that when you're heading west in Ireland, you're heading into the prevailing wind. But maybe it's the same in the States. So head east.* Except you can't – you're already east! And anyway, you'd have to come back again.

      Sorry, that's Irish! :)

      *At the very end of The Graduate – the book, not the movie – Elaine asks Ben, "Where will we go?" And Ben replies, "East. Let's go east," which I thought was a good line. In the movie they just look worried.

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  12. I rode up into the Catskills this weekend, to meet my family and some friend at a campground. While lying on a patch of grass near a lake, I was watching these enormous cumulus clouds move overhead silently, as the buzz of humans conversing and splashing around drifted in and out of my head. I thought it would make a cool movie, these majestic clouds moving regally, with a soundtrack of human chatter. I wondered if any molecules from Julius Caesar or dinosaurs were in those puffs of water floating above me.

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  13. Sounds like you were after some peace and quiet, and you found it.

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  14. This photo seems divided equally between sky and ground and it looks like the ground is a happening place, also! ;)

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  15. A painted bridge over a stream marks the highest point on the mountain. So water must flow uphill in Ireland. It truly is a magical place!

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