Under the title 'Dolphin Address' Jan Ploeg wrote in Ireland, in the summer of 2003 36 stories about Dusty, the waterwing, himself and Ireland. On this page the index of the stories.
The Tiara of Pollenawatch
Dolphin Address 1
June 6, 2003
When I look at a sharp close-up of a dolphins head in clear water I no seldom see very fine vibration lines and other shades of light refraction that seem to have little to do with the vortexes caused by the displacement of the dolphin.
The weather, as always, is ever-changing. I have unlearned to rejoice at dawn at a sunny day. You nearly burn out of the van when suddenly a distant gust is rustling nearer. A hesitant trickle on the roof, followed by a thick blanket of very fine rain, a kind of inverted sparkling water.
Within a minute you are totally saturated by water. And it takes three days for the inside of the car to dry.
Though at home I seldom take the trouble to lift as much as a look above the horizon, here I follow the celestial event from the earliest daylight. Before dawn the smithy of the new sun is glowing above the Cairn of Murrooghkilly. Gooseflesh creeps upon me while I speedpee, just a moment, just a look and then again into the car on all fours.
It is far from possible to give an account of swimming with Dusty that holds water. No seldom she reflects the person she swims
She too has her moods and differs from day to day. The most direct way to capture her in words is by describing her body language. A literal account of this, however, would suffocate in a profusion of directional indications. Reasoning into her motives may color soon to the palette of the writer.
Dear Car Wake up with the screens in tears
wet feet walking on the grass
nothing doing, cold outside
rather snug up in my car.
A city concentrates a great number of activities, that often and even by preference are accessible by foot. That is different here. Dusty swims at Derreen, which is about 5 kilometer from the local shop in Fanore. The weekend meadow, only a few minutes downhill, serves as an escape when the dunes are overpowered by crude city people and other loudmouths who stink washed up fish nets on out of hand bonfires to the doubtful delight of breaking car radio's.
The waves today are so high that I can look inside them just before they tumble to froth on the rocks. Especially Pollenawatch, and to a lesser degree the Dog Chunks clear up warped. White heads everywhere, but every so often my attention is drawn by a sharp foam trail when Dusty takes a surf. Here and there wave woven weed fields are floating.
Also if after some insistence of 'sound signatures' with dived up stones, Dusty does not answer there is plenty to go to in her domain.
Some housing is erectable or convertible, that of Dusty is elevating. At high tide you need to dive 4 meter more to reach the seabed. After a cool calculation Galway Bay, until the Aran Islands, covers a surface of about 1500 square kilometers.
Klaas Koch, the salty skipper skipper of the diving vessel 'De Zeester' I once heard to comment on an exceptionally flat sea: ' It looks like Lake Placid'. These are the truths one never gets rid of. So that was what could not help thinking when I came to the border wall and found an unlikely flat pavement at my feet. Maybe it was the offshore wind, but where until recently stormed an enormous whopper of water that could only be accessed with effort, nothing was left but a swimming pool.
My standard breakfast consists of three slices McCambridge irish stone ground Wholewheat bread, because it's tasty, pre-sliced and in a handy re-usable bag. Two with mature, though still rather flat tasting Cheddar cheese. Therefore I pump a generous squeeze of mustardmayonaise over it and one with apricot jam. All this accompanied by a liter of nearly frozen milk. Echolocation would therefore not show an empty stomach.
Honest, I love Ireland, but I would love Ireland even much more, if some savior stood up and delivered us from the wretched midgets. Preferably something that helps, not something that only makes money, but anything that comprises a full target-death correlation. Surely we have more, and particularly, more evil brain than they do?
Because I noticed to increasingly talk back to my spell-checker, I decided I'd need a day off. And because I like tea, I started with a visit to the 'Tea Gardens' in Ballyvaughn. House and Garden could have walked straight of the palette of Summerset Maugham, with climbing-plants casually overgrowing tiffany. The menu only suggests three teas (but some 20 sorts of homemade fruitcakes) and presents a selection of local history. Thus army chief Ludlow is supposed to have said about the Burren in 1651: '...country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang a man or earth enough to bury a man.'
Some people think I must be an optimal optimist to enter this cold water everyday. But I don't swim with Dusty every day. I could, but I don't. There is no central reason for that, more like a webwork of small ones. You don't visit your best friend everyday, do you?
The last two years, and probably many years before that, there was a straw bale cord with a knot in it, tied to the gate that gave access to Dusty. The knot was to be pulled behind a bent and rusty nail in order to secure the gate. I was touched by the elementary efficiency, the practical technology, based on what common sense can conjure out of the ordinary.
Today is my half-time and by way of interim report I had planned a morality sketch, but also to give the good around me a sharper profile. I intended to draw up a list of irritating Irish habits. But when I had found five I called it a day, because if you hang your nose over the cesspool, you should not complain about the stench. Here they are in random order:
Since I know how to keep the inner lens of my waterproof case free of condense I am richer than the queen with my Canon Powershot. Filming Dusty under water is something two months ago I would not ever never have dreamt of, but thanks to a tax refund, meanwhile cashed in by my municipality, I got it!
Because I did not want to worry anyone I have not spoken about the following until now. For some people Dusty is not a gift of the ocean at all. They rather see her as a curse. Here is about why. When she had just come here, about 2,5 years ago, somebody local advertised in all national newspapers about the cottages for rent that were overlooking the dolphin.
Anger, once aroused, cools down. Unless it oppresses the spirit time and again. Then it goes looking for an escape.
I was, again, enjoying the view from Mrs Bridies one and only 3D terrace, when I heard a sigh, and another one. They sounded similar to Dusty's respiration so I crossed the road for a better oversight. Then I saw what I had been looking across all the time. Between tremendously high rocks, there was a lovely sandy beach. A fantastic idea jumped like a dolphin out of my forehead. If I could get Dusty to get used to that!
Yesterday evening, just before dark, I went to fetch my shoes at Pollenawatch. There was a rather substantial woman (she called herself 'padded') swimming with a dog named Bailey. The other woman was just peeing at the plank gate.
Usually I have to rush to keep up with my thoughts. Sometimes I catch up with them and grind to a standstill. Idling by the fear that it's over and out, that I will never adventure anything again that's worth writing down. Walled in by impotence in my own blank. Until spontaneously a new pleasure springs from my mind and hoppety hop, my pen is what I'm after.
Out of laziness I used to call it 'the salt wall', but that is nonsense. One side of the wall is as salt as the other. If you look closer you see numerous small bells, that, in massive or in tight gusts, are impenetrable for the eye. It is a phenomenon that presents itself at the beginning of the rising tide until a depth of about 4 meters. For obvious reasons I call it 'fizz'.
It was the kind of evening that you just don't know where to go. Inside, the car was still radiating the heat of the day. Outside the midgets seemed to multiply by the minute. I begged the Burren for a breeze, a gentle breath to blow the beasts asunder. Alas, it was denied. My life was to follow a different path.
I chose the sandy one and dragged myself across the dunes to where tis preyed upon by the hungry waves. But also here the air was hanging still, only to move under a zillion midget wings. On condition one has been good, Providence may take over in such cases.
In Ireland the shortest connection between two points is only seldom a straight road. The closest approach to my knowledge is the descent at New Quai, because this comes closest to a free fall. This is caused by something we don't really know in Holland, the third dimension. That is why structurally the Irish are more spatially aware.
'Where the scent of wild roses
turns the milk to cream
When the rhythm of your life is related to the tide, of the ocean as well as of inspiration, than food is not often first on your list. I seldom miss my three slices of McCambridge for breakfast. To fight the worst hunger in between I drink rather a lot of milk, until four liter a day. The colder the better. Until recently the gas station in Doolin had the coldest, but a week or two ago I saw a thermometer in the milk fridge in the Ballyvaughan gas station indicating exactly one degree. For that, and to keep my second battery charged, I take a detour of 20 km.
The last week and a half I have been swimming everyday. From Bridie beach to Pollenawatch and back. The distance is subordinate to the current. I am in for roughly two hours and I take my time, because there is lots to be seen underwayves. Except rays, dogfish, wrasse, haddock and spider crabs I have seen a conger eel twice now. The second probably had a flatfish in its mouth and was as big as my calve. Also the growth is brilliant, especially by deep crevices with sandpits as bottom, that hold in turn perfectly g/round stones.
Just a little while ago I was fooling around with Dusty and I saw some one running head over heels, shouting and other people come running.
Yesterday two girls in a quite unsavory canoodle with sound around, just because a dolphin swam close. Just out of the water a man with a very hoarse voice who asked me for directions for use for the dolphin: 'She's got to cure my throat'.
'Then you'd better go to a doctor'.
''They can't help me'.
On the occasion of the 25th edition of Dolphin Address 2003 the entry of our correspondent in Berlin, Verena Dommage here follows. She reacts with clarifying info to Dolphin Address nr. 19. The program quoted is called 'Wonderquest' and the question is answered by April Holladay.
Question: 'What do whales, porpoises, dolphins, manatees and other sea-dwelling mammals drink?'
I let go all I can until every bit of air is clean gone, so I can take in maximum oxygen. Hold it just a tic before taking in. Now let it in, the rush of air, fast and firm until I nearly can chew it. There is time, she knows, she wants me to do it right, she's a pro.
With however clenched eyelids I try to finish my dreams, my ears amaze me even more with an enormous muffled rumble: the ocean has risen. The creamy blue distances are over and so are the sensitive contours, the stills in the water and the wind labyrinth, the friendly ripples and the clear break of water. Clouds, ink black and leaden grey gallop past, as if I fell from the saddle. Raindrops on the windscreen bulb up little bits of outside.
For a single person there is even more joy to be greeted at the crack of dawn by all those waves. It begins with a shit, or 'downloading' as I have come to call it. Like everywhere at the Burren, at my meadow the rocks run terrace wise into the sea. I prefer to sit as close as possible to the water, so my message will be properly washed away.
The decline of each culture rotates in vortexes. Those of Fungi have charted Dingle as well as sucked it, by common intent, back into the cesspool of greed.
Dingle in the post-Fungi era, is characterized by dressed up monkeys with by winter woolen bonnets shaven ears, red hot shade blades and a nail through the chin, frivoloused by elderly girls, a touch out of focus, that odor themselves by a choice of nagging herbs. One meets them thrice each time one walks through town as they pace the 'Dingle Triangle' like zoo animals, seeking the redeeming answer to a meanwhile forgotten question.
Humans do not reflect breathing. For a dolphin this is much more sensitive. Dusty always has to find a position in which to breathe. When the sea is calm this is not much of a problem. She can stay under water for about 8 minutes, so she just has to surface. In a storm this seems a lot harder. But if she can jump out of the water it should hardly be a problem to emerge a little higher. In this she has a refined ability at her disposal to observe the surface. With the surrounding tissue of her blowhole she can fathom the water pressure.
Does a dolphin have a beak or a mouth? Look inside your own head. The closer you come to Dusty the less you will fear her and the more warmth you feel. She simply needs 4 rows of dagger sharp teeth to catch fish and work it inwards. If she would want to she tears the flesh from your bones or kills you with one blow of her fluke. Even in knee deep water. But like a police officer will not kill you just like that, Dusty will not turn her body against you at random.
In the beginning of July I wrote how Dusty brought me a large salmon. On three, unfortunately misty, video's I took, you can see how she did this. First she is rummaging vertically upside down in the kelp and next she leads the salmon, stunned by sound, with her beak, time and again, almost inside the camera.
As a sculptor my burden has been heavy in the most literary sense. I have always liked to live on the edge of my ability. It did not kill me, yet, and though it made me stronger, it nearly broke my back. Mostly I worked in tree trunks weighing up to 5 tons. These you don't lift with your hands. I have a jack for that.
Because 'Snorkeling with monofin and waterwing' is a somewhat roundabout description, some time ago I made up the word 'powersnorkeling'. It is a combination that may sound odd, but it does give a versatile cover. It does not only refer to the powerful thrust of the monofin.
It also refers to that the angle in which the wing is moved up and down is related to the thrust that is thereby exerted. By tilting the wing it will by itself steer up- or downward. It's up to you how powerful you push or heave.
In the past week almost daily dolphins have been seen near Dusty's aquatorium. Veronique told me she had seen that Dusty swam with a group with calves into the direction of the Aran Islands.
She could identify Dusty by the white scar on her dorsal fin that she got from the propeller of a speedboat last August. This is on her right and because this side is turned away from the shore when she is southbound I doubted this observation, all the more because until now she always seemed to avoid other dolphins.
Swimming with only a waterwing is of no use. The wing needs a flying start. You don't drive a car from the third gear either. Thus you can compare flippers with the second gear, but the waterwing is of best avail when it is powered by a monofin.
This becomes apparent when you only move the waterwing. With bare feet you hardly advance, but with a monofin held immobile you do so reasonably well. You can feel the water drive in turn against the upper or the under side.