Mixing things up here! It’s only Wednesday, as I write …
You know, there’s something to be said for taking one day at a time. The weather forecast for today was dismal – incessant, torrential rain. Sound familiar? Torn from sleep, however – six hours at most – I was buoyed by the brightness of the room. Blue sky? Sun? By jove, that changes everything. Well, adjusts the screen, if nothing else. So, instead of preparing to be drenched, braving the elements out of necessity only, I headed for the West Sands, my ‘in the great scheme of things’ place. Familiar and unchanging, it never fails to restore perspective. Humbling, it sneers at ego.
The memory of that crowded Sunday fading fast, my feet sank into the soft sand as I walked down through the dunes emerging onto a wide expanse of nature untarnished by people. My kind of beach. My beach. The tide was miles off in the distance but I could still hear the sound of the gentle waves lapping the shore, the familiar sight of the ‘white horses’ seemingly racing across the brink. As ever, I just wanted to stand and soak it all in but, instead, I walked in the direction of town, never tiring of its iconic outline.
My mind races as I retrace the steps I have taken so many times before, filled with the memories which have coloured my life. Pop is always with me on these sands, the voice in my head, from whom I still glean my strength. I smile, as I walk, picturing him in his Barbour and tweed cap, walking stick in hand as his beloved Rumpole cavorted in the waves or, proudly, claimed as his own some ridiculous expanse of wood washed up on the shore. He and I put the world to rights on these walks never taking for granted the bond that we shared, nor our love for this beach; our beach.
Strangely, today I thought of my mother: vibrant, full of character and fun but complex and, behind the mask, riddled with insecurities. She ensured our childhood was never boring with a house full of animals and friends. Game for anything, it was she who walked Mickey, our pony, through the house and out the front door; she who would always fly over that ‘bump’ on the back road to St Andrews; who took us all to Millport every summer as we revelled in freedom and she who walked straight into the Gents, by mistake, when meeting my future in-laws for the first time. How I loved that! So typically her. A wealth of memories and a very happy childhood, we were lucky. Lucky, too, that none of us knew what the future held. The fault line was there all along, as in every family, but it is only in hindsight that I recognise it. Untended, in our case, it became a crevasse which separated and divided; a wound too deep to heal and about which I intend to write. Cathartic, without a doubt, and testament to the fragility of family.
I sat for a while at the edge of the dunes watching the grains of sand blowing in the wind. We are, truly, nothing more than visitors here; footprints in the sand. Here today, gone tomorrow. One day at a time …
‘The love and warmth I knew in that special family was like a pebble dropped in water that ripples through my life to this day.’
Earl Hamner Jr.
This is Trish, signing off.