Friday, February 25, 2011

Out of the dark ...

It's amazing how a sudden change in the weather can make such a difference to life. Perhaps I should qualify that. When I lived in the city - and it's 37 years since I did - the weather was a backdrop, no more. I noticed if it wasn't raining, and can recall the peculiar smell of sun-warmed dust mingled with privet flowers in the late summer, but I have no recollection of prolonged gloom or subsequent depression on my part. Even in Dunoon, when I was at work, the main drawback of awful weather was the trail from the carpark to the main entrance - you could be soaked before you knew it - but I often felt how cheerful the yellow-painted English corridor was on a dark morning, and enjoyed the obvious delight my classes took in my similarly-painted classroom. It didn't really cross my mind to care about the weather - I was too busy, and didn't get out much except at weekends.

Now, however, it's different. This is the first winter I haven't gone abroad at all, and it's had an effect. The past week has been distinguished by a complete absence of sun - the rain hasn't fallen every day, but it's been dark. Some days it felt as if we were stuck on the edge of a huge ocean, as we could see nothing of the other side of the firth. Everyone you met mentioned it. It was hellish.

And then came today. The morning was like all the others - grey, misty, a hint of drizzle in a slight breeze. Until suddenly the wind got up and the clouds rolled back. The photo above was taken about 5pm, and shows the high tide completely covering the beach below the shore road at Toward. We walked along here, and out the Ardyne, and I felt like a new person. A squadron of oystercatchers flew overhead on some important mission; their cousins shared a field with the sheep and a scattering of  curlews. The waves were brown and green in the low sunlight, and it was almost unbearably bright, as if we'd been in a cave for a week. The light reminded us, oddly, of the shore south of Monterey in California at the same time of year, though there were no tales of mountain lions to terrify.

And then the sun set and it was dark again. But the effect remained - and with it the thought that, as Larkin said, "It will be spring soon, it will be spring soon."

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