Yesterday we drove to a village in Donegal, pop. circa 713, to slurp oysters in gin, swim in the warm sea, and escape the dread and anxiety generated by U. S. headlines. There must be beauty in the world, if only I seek it. "Regenerative experiences: Plunge into the sea. The sun. An old city. Silence."--Susan Sontag
At Maghera Strand, I took some photos and videos, only to marvel at elusive nature. I can't quite capture sand’s shifting colours, the bleating of sheep in these emerald hills, the vastness of a sparsely occupied beach. Perhaps this is why some people write poetry instead.
In the caves, the enigmatic strata of the ages, time compressed, evokes awe at the sublimity of nature. Geologically, Ireland is composed of the parts of two lost continents that collided 420 million years ago. It didn't become an island until a few thousand years ago. Now it drifts northwards, infinitesimally, disregarding arbitrary, man-made borders, and Ireland's variety of stone reflects its passage through the tropics and desert belts of Earth's hemispheres. I find this reassuring, like the sight of people rendered tiny by the scale of these ancient hills. They meld into the shadowy crannies, like so many before them.
Ireland's geological history also feels like a personal metaphor: I was born in California, but during my life-passage, I become something else, a creature sedimented by memories of icy and hot spells in strange and wonderful lands. I am fern-furred and microfossiled, pretty purple with foxgloves, a swift on the wing. These words, corals embedded in the stone of my life.
At one point, I watch my husband rush toward the sea with trepidation; we had been warned of strong currents. He disappears and I feel the fragility of our life together. Certainty recedes with the tide, water pulled elsewhere, to a vast and unspeakable mystery. Then it returns, an onrush of feeling from immeasurable depths, to the place where I see him, in the distance, his movements as familiar as my own.