Rain with the backdoor open. The smell is more than ozone. It’s healing. The downpour on concrete outweighs this patter of keystrokes tenfold. Vine leaves, acer, and privet reach everywhere to catch the moment. Devon is verdant even in a garden without grass. It’s only in remembering that we realise we have forgotten. Unloading the dishwasher can wait. The sounds of kids’ TV have become abstract. It’s easy to forget one’s true responsibility in the crush of imagining failure and success. Half a life has passed by any generous measure. How much longer before I step into the rain?
There’s a charge to swimming in the Atlantic that you don’t get at the local leisure centre. Perhaps it’s the abrasive quality of salt, or the electric feel of the cold. Getting in is the hard part. The passive among us may let the waves do the work: a progressive submergence. The bold will run and dive, but this is rash. Showboating may be followed by an abrupt exit. Waist deep is significant progress. Then all that’s required is one duck into the water. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. You might as well start swimming to keep warm.
Once in, the waves move you and cold surrounds you, making feel connected to something larger than yourself. At Porthgwidden beach you see birds arc around the chapel, and Godrevy lighthouse bob on the horizon. Boats cut the water out beyond the buoys. It may even feel that the experience wouldn’t be as refreshing were the water a mediterranean 25ºC. Just be sure to have a warm coffee waiting when you get out.
Lightning arced on all sides of the bay for nearly two hours. Great forks and ambient flashes lit the warm front, turning rooms blue and pink. Rain made wooden sounds on rooftops. Storms like this are nature’s epiphanies, its big neurons flickering to make a black sea imaginable to itself for the briefest possible time.
Across the beach at low tide. Wet trainers on shining sand. Around the back of the island, sharing the view where people block the path. Catching breath against the granite when cars inch by. Past the bowling green, onto the coast path. Over rubble, up hills. Round the headland, into a new bay. Uphill to the boulders, clambering with fingers and toes. Just sitting on the rock, watching thoughts and the boat halfway between the lighthouse and this weathered, lichened rock and me.
Looking at the moon through a pair of binoculars, you really get a sense of how round and big it is. And yet how small when you see its craters silhouetted against undiluted darkness and realise how large a portion of the surface each one covers. Then there are the seas: great ash coloured bruises. All this seems obvious. I’ve just described the moon — nothing special here, you’ve seen it a thousand times — but think how obscure this really is: a speck of dust orbiting a speck of dust orbiting one of 300 billion stars in at least 100 billion galaxies. Viewed from anywhere else in the universe, it is essentially another dark patch of sky… but luminous to us. If we are not astounded by such a sight, we should learn how to be.