Monday, July 02, 2007

.......And Beaches.....

Islanders are, of course, magnetically drawn to beaches. They have no choice. Must.regularly.fill.lungs.with.salty.sea.air. Or curl up and die.

Which is why, when we were growing up, the sweetest words our parents could say, on a warm Sunday after Mass, were "Let's go to the seaside!"

While Dad organised the picnic basket, Mum rolled up her sleeves and started making sandwiches.

Lahinch, on the coast of Co. Clare, was about forty miles away. Forty very long miles. As we got closer, we watched like hawks, each of us wanting to be first to see the sea. When the shout went up, we craned forward from the back seat, riveted by the distant gleam of the ocean.

We had to curb our enthusiasm, however, until we found the perfect sheltered hollow in the sand dunes. Blankets were spread and swimsuits wriggled into. Dad set about dolacawling* with the little stove and kettle to make tea, mother set about roasting herself, and we scattered.

Brother made a beeline for the rocks to watch the relentlessly crashing waves. Little sister built sandcastles, and permitted the smaller waves to chase her. And I went leaping like a goat over the smooth rocks separating the dunes from the beach. There was giddy exhilaration in leaping from one to the other, so sure-footed that I knew, while airborne, exactly which rock I'd land on. I sometimes wonder if all that rock lepping had anything to do with the less than nimble condition of my feet now....

And shells! The toy has not yet been invented that could enthrall me as thoroughly as a seashell. On every trip to the sea I'd haul home another load, maternal protests notwithstanding. They were, and still are, endlessly fascinating.

Lahinch is a wide, sweeping arc of golden bliss. When we tired, temporarily, of rock lepping and sandcastle building, we'd go dancing into the waves, and skitter back as a huge one threatened, and advance again, shivering and giggling, and jump with each approaching swell,in a futile attempt to keep from getting completely wet. Eventually we'd surrender, and let the sea have her way with us, and come up laughing and gasping for air. Even on the hottest day in July, the Atlantic is COLD. Exhilarated, and covered in goose bumps, we'd dash for our hollow in the dunes. And lie on outspread towels, hugging the warm sand, until our teeth ceased their chattering.

And then, for sure, we'd be ready for those sandwiches. My mother was a farmer's daughter, so you'd expect that sandwiches made by her, for children rendered ravenous by the salty sea, would be great agricultural slabs of things. But you'd be wrong. Somewhere between the farm and the beach, our mum had fallen in love with things genteel. The sandwiches, and there were plenty of them, fortunately, were dainty things, with the crusts neatly cut off. Suitable for ladylike nibbling at a bridge party. We were no ladies, and this was no bridge party. It was like tossing buns to elephants.

And tea by the sea. Oh my! Even though we drank it from the woefully inadequate blue plastic cups that came with the picnic basket,it was surely what the angels drank in heaven.

Sunscreen? Never heard of it. Must be for sissies. With our fair skin we regularly got roasted. Looking like a lobster was proof you'd been to the seaside.... Several days later we could be found,like our cousins the monkeys, engrossed in the ancient grooming ritual of removing crispy wisps of scorched skin from each others' backs.

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Liz was born in the Mojave Desert. But her bones know, that even though she lives in land-locked Ohio she is really a sea nymph.


This is our sea nymph in her famous film star pose....

She came to meet us in Miami for a weekend while her aunt was visiting from Ireland. It poured rain, the better to make Auntie feel right at home. But at least it was warm. This fellow was better rigged out than we were for the downpour.


There were three of us, which meant, given our combined lack of expertise, we could only have two of us in any given picture. But we wanted three. Not possible. Unless......Unless we threw ourselves on the mercy of a stranger.....Which is how we came to accost an unsuspecting fellow who had just come onto the beach from his hotel. Running up to him, camera in hand, smiling ingratiatingly, I asked if he would mind doing us a favour. Almost immediately, I knew I'd made a mistake. Of all the cool, laid back people we could have met on the beach, we'd run into the lone,humourless stuffed shirt. As he tsk,tsked,like a fussy old hen who had chicks late in life, I tried to back away, mumbling apologies.

"I came out here to exercise," he said crossly, impatiently reaching for the camera. All business. So...oo.. Its a miracle we didn't stick our tongues out,like naughty children, when he clicked. We began to thank him effusively, the more so because he'd been less than delighted to be accosted by three lovely lassies. But, lo! He was getting into the beach spirit now. "I'll take one more," he said magnanimously. Then, brushing aside our thanks, he went twittering off down the beach, intent on his exercise. We didn't accost any more strangers. Lesson learned. At least 'til next time.


But we did get a picture of all three of us, and we did fill our lungs with enough salty sea air to last us for a while.....

*dolacawling---my phonetic spelling for an untranslatable word used in Ireland that loosely means "messing about with......" Don't say I never include educational content here.

Note: I am guardedly optimistic that I might have finally nailed the picture uploading thing....not to mention ecstatic! Bear with me for a while if I get carried away with my new found abilities.

19 comments:

tracey petersen said...

download to your heart's content,
I'm loving the pictorial evidence of your seaside delights!

riseoutofme said...

And now you have me blubbering .....

Isabelle said...

Ah, what a lovely lovely picture. That chap can't have been so bad.

Thanks for the educational bit, by the way.

I thought of you when reading, recently, an account of a Highland (Scottish) upbringing in which there was a Donald Ban (with an accent on the "a") and it was explained that this meant Blond Donald in Gaelic.

Ali Honey said...

Visits to the "beach," (not seaside ) were very much like that during my childhood in NZ except the sea was warmer and we swam a lot.We had small wooden body boards for surfing on, that our Dad had made and sometimes went fishing with a huge net, dragged through the sea when other friends were there to help.( caught fish in it too! ) Great memories.

Liz said...

Now the whole internet will know how glam I am. I may not be an islander, and Dad may technically be an inlander, but I must have inherited some sort of seaside gene. I feel very at home there... and obviously very much like a film star.

Molly said...

That's it exactly, Isabelle!The accent is called a "fada". The "d" is a soft sound made by pronouncing it with the tongue between the upper and lower teeth---and visible! Its effect is to lengthen the vowel sound, so "a" becomes "aw"--as in Molly Bawn, which my grandmother called me sometimes..... It means "fair-haired Mary."

mjd said...

Lovely...I must go down to the sea again. You have written a wonderful post with beautful pictures. All three of you seem quite glamorous by the seashore.

Aunty Evil said...

Ever had the hostile photo taker that took a photo of your feet to your knees? Now we have digital cameras, their grumpiness cannot be disguised until the film is developed!

Lovely beach!! Almost looks Australian!

meggie said...

Lovely salty post! And how glamorous you three look standing there by the ocean.
Lovely pics. Made me homesick for the beaches of Ali Honey's & my, childhood.

sMC said...

lovely post, reminds me of my annual week long jaunt to the beach, when I was a kid in England. The sun can be so cruel tho, The Scot has to keep an eye on sunspots and I can see mine developing. Isn't it wonderful the non translatatable words families use.

Stomper Girl said...

Yes indeed, a lovely post and some lovely photos to go with it. Most people are obliging when asked to take a photo. I found it quite bizarre that that man grumped at you.

Dalis' Blog at Dancing Leaf Farm said...

Your post makes me want to go to the seaside, even though I'm a landlubber at heart! I do so enjoy your blog.

Molly said...

Hopefully we served as a reminder to "that chap" to loosen up and relax---'You're at the beach now!" Like Stomper, I found it bizarre too, but who knows. Maybe his company had just gone bankrupt, or his wife had filed for divorce, or he'd absentmindedly put salt instead of sugar in his coffee that morning....My experience is that most people are happy to oblige. When I see a couple, or a family taking pictures, I always offer to help out so that they will have at least one shot of both/all of them.

velcro said...

those photos look so lovely. Part of me misses the beach, the sun and the sea, and then the more sensible or paranoid part of me reminds myself that large fish with too many teeth and a penchant for humans live in the sea

Tanya Brown said...

Marvelous and evocative, as though you just shared a bit of paradise.

Liz is looking lovely, and I'm glad that the Grouchy Stranger consented to take your photos. It's a moment captured out of time, nice to have for remembrance.

Princess Banter said...

I know what you mean... I grew up a bit too near the ocean as well and I just dunno how people can live so far from the shores :) Seems like ya'll always had wonderful picnics before... that must've been wonderful! To the sea nymphs -- hear hear! :)

Suse said...

That was a beautiful post. I grew up by the beach and saw the sea every day of my life. Now that I don't, I really miss it. It smells like home.

sMC said...

I see you have been playing on the computer. Could you please explain naBloPoMo

Shelby said...

what a great blog you have! I gave you a shout out on my blog this morning.. take care and happy day!:)