Here we are on the brink of what I heard being called 'the teenies', an occasion to deliver my traditional New Year’s Address.
To many this new decade means a step closer to their future while others are already living in it. None of this in Dolphin Address. Recently, I read an American senator say that a dolphin has the attention span of a three-year-old. So if you want to understand a dolphin you have to live in the present.
Science maintains that the smile of a dolphin only serves to have a better view on her meal. We cherish a different view. That it is an evolutional hallmark of delight in their own existence.
And we also have that aptitude! Just try to smile with the corners of your mouth down.
Keep this view in mind, if only for a moment. It may come back next time you visit Dolphin Address as here it sells for free. The rest is DIY.
I think we all had our own idea about how it would be if Dusty and her child would have stayed at Pollenawatch. That maybe as a proud mother, she would have shown her calf to those who are closer to her than her own species. That the little one would have a friskiness like the young stallion we saw yesterday in a meadow on top of Slieve Elva, running and galloping, overtly discovering and celebrating its own existence. How charmingly curious it would be and how Dusty would mother it.
With my rear doors wide open, I nourish the gentle warmth of the low morning sun. Since yesterevening I'm back from Holland, and just in the quick of time, as it was snowing there. On the road, after a night full of coughing myself from sleep I feverishly woke up to a Lucy in the Sky-like weatherscape with living light oozing out in bewilderingly pure colours. I hailed the sun after oh so cold a night for the splendour that reached beyond the horizon. Which was were I went.
Rumours that Dusty can transfer thoughts telepathically I have always taken with a grain of sea salt. But I never even imagined she could hack my mail program. Still, the following message is so personal that it can only be from her.
Don't be sad because you haven't seen me for a few days. I'm about to start labouring and then I'm no fun anyway. Also I need my head for the baby, that is a whole new life and you know how much I value my privacy. I don't know how long you are going to miss me. Time, indeed, will tell.
Everyone knows these golden moments that you think, how I would have loved to photograph this. Usually I keep my camera close at hand, but even then Nature every so often times me out. Like this Spring.
I had just stepped out of the van to stick the kettle on for my morning porridge, when I heard the boisterous croaking of crows.
How much more the sea is than a pile of waves. Steep folding collars of vaporised violence storm sideways from rising, horizon-blocking, water mountains. But air can also be a finer brush. For days, an offshore wind leaned on a massive swell. The crests were blown back and everywhere white-water gulls winged upon a sun-shed deep green-blue fond against the menacing dark skies.
Since I've seen, and photographed, that and how seagulls eat sea-urchins, their world has opened up for me. Of nearly 2,000 photos 68 remained that give a broad picture of the daily life of a seagull.
For weighty reasons is was not possible to put all this on the Dolphin Address pages. Also the 'Foto' department did not avail. And then Carola came with an idea that marks a new era for Dolphin Address. As of now the photos and videos will be on the 'dolphin_address' webpage of Mobile Me, http://gallery.me.com/dolphin_address#(number=)100087 (in this case).
View suggestion: print the text to follow the photos off close.
Finally I'm back on the meadow as I know it intimately. A breeze pushes short waves across the swell and the light, dispersed by a sky in shades of grey, adds shadows jumping in jagged contours. On the meadow scarlet pimpernels like friendly trickles of blood pop up in my unsuspecting eyes. A flight of starlings like a flying blanket whooshes by and lands chattering on washed up, dried out seaweed. I'm truly home again.
By popular demand of my brother, this edition of Dolphin Address is dedicated to my very best friend, me.
To begin with, a medical update. For my own ease of mind and in line with my excellent physical condition, I have adopted the view in which my kidneys are in the excellent care of the renal clinic in Galway. They feel very much in their niche there and I go over every six weeks to visit them.
What is Dusty's age?
Again I tread a slippery path. This question ranks high on my FAQs. I used to call upon a sloppy account in which Dusty was estimated to be 12 when first she was spotted at Doolin in 2002. Possibly this was because of one of the many persistent observations of her being seen, always by somebody else, pushing a dead calf.
Notwithstanding the jolts and the racket the wind played on the van last night, I slept like a log floating in a bath tub. When my eyes opened the curtains the armpit of Cape Cowskull was overblown with stale froth and from the high and mighty crashes storming in, there was much more to come.
In 2003, by order of the Garda, a double yellow line was drawn on both sides of the road, where it ran along 'the second cove'. That was the spot where Dusty picked up swimmers that year. You see, people parked their cars everywhere and went for a dolphin stroll with the whole family. This all went in an amiable fashion, because it was not prohibited to park there.
Over the years I have entertained several times the idea to publish 'Dolphin Address' as a book, mostly to ease my financial deadlocks. This bears no fruit as you can make need into virtue, but next wring it for inspiration is contrary to the principles of creation. Need must be subordinate. The spirit is to drive itself and free from earthly perturbation transport the reader to one of the most sublime orgasms granted to the human soul, the understanding of your own thoughts.
After months of wielding tools, my idea finally took shape. First the van had to be made watertight as the rubber seals around the doors were rather worn. Then the inlet for the carburettor had to be extended with an air duct.
Yesterday the moon was in the third quarter, it was an uneven day and the tide was coming in, so Dusty arrived, exactly on time, at 14.23 at Pollenawatch.
I sense surprise. That sounds as if she is on a schedule. That can't be true, and of course, it isn't. However, one does not want to feed all the mouths of those who ask me: 'What time is the dolphin around?'
The sea is still in overalls. Yesterday was hard work and now it is yellowish-brown with knots of seaweed and filthy sloshes. Since yesternoon a large cork dances there, refusing to wash up. Not too pretty, but it is kind of company.
It was a gloomy rising this morning. Not only were the Aran Islands obscured by ashes, but the wavelets mirrored the sunless sky with a solemn frown. It may all be pure Nature, this darkness, but that's what they also told the dinosaurs.
Usually I fit my contemplations of Nature in paradisiacal wording. I try to transport the reader to my Belvedere and depict my observations. Sometimes, though, I fall victim to my own pleasure and then there is no other option but to save my skin.
Today, the 25th of March, I had my first swim this year.
I live here amid Nature and this determines my life to a great extent. In bad weather, I do everything inside, but in a dry spell I run up (and down) the rocks. Purely for pleasure and it keeps me fit as well. When the weather is good, I have the back doors open and live outside as much as possible. For quite some time I was about to go for a swim. Dusty is a lot at Pollenawatch and that pulls. But then again I have to be cautious for my own enthusiasm. It is still bitterly cold in the evening and two weeks ago there was frost on the morning meadow. Prudence is in order, as being ill on my own is no lullaby.
Sea's sloppy today. Here a wave and there one. And at long last they all drown in their own slosh. Not worthwhile to screw the telephoto lens on the camera.
And in the van, with me, it is none the better. Out of focus, trying to screw the lens cap onto the water bottle, things that fall on the ground and instantly disappear or roll under my bed beyond reach. In short: chaos and ugly all around.
On top of that, how for Pete's sake can you hurt yourself on porridge? Well, I had spilled some over the brim of my mega-mug and that had dried up and got stuck on it. When I wanted to pick it off with my thumbnail the crust shot under it and I still feel it. Mother, Mary and Jozuf!
Years ago my friend and fellow-sculptor Onco Tattje inspired me to portraying water. Apparently an idle task unless you include life forms that were shaped by it. Like dolphins and whales.
So I moved into the water suited as close as I could get to their exterior, with monofin, waterwing and dorsal fin. At the same time I tried to mentally move in their fashion and checked out my touch in the water.
He stood there in the distance. He looked good. He looked maybe a bit weathered and had not been oiled in a long time. Did I see that wink, and did I hear a deep good-natured grumble when I rubbed his forehead? Amiably I walloped his shields, fondled his full-grown antlers and swung myself on his back in one go.
The adverse wind is howling like a steam hammer and the swell is toiling against it. As soon as an apex glazes she is nearly halted and her energy turns into fuming steam that, like a wedding veil, is hurled behind in a high coil.