Monday, April 15, 2024

Lake Forest: Connemara; kissing the moon; beach day; Nero’s deadline


I read LISTENING TO THE WIND, the first volume of Tim Robinson’s Connemara trilogy, the way I drink Laphroaig, sipping slowly, a chapter a day.  This is a book to be savored, not gulped.

Before Colin in Ireland brought Tim Robinson to my attention, for which I thank him, I knew the word Connemara, but I could not have placed it on a map.  Now I can.  An edge of Europe midway up the west coast of Ireland, not far from Galway, about twenty miles/ thirty kilometers of coast and low, but rugged mountains, eternally assaulted by the ocean and the elements.

Tim Robinson was not Irish, but English, raised in Yorkshire and educated at Cambridge.  He and his wife moved to Ireland in 1972, first to the Aran Islands, about which he wrote two books, then to Roundstone on the Irish mainland.

Here is a link to his obituary.  I regret to learn that he, a very physical man, developed Parkinson’s Disease and died of COVID.  It can happen to any of us.

Robinson found his place in western Ireland as I have found my place at sea.  He writes of the geology, the biology, the history—both factual and legendary, of Connemara with a rare style so that I, who have never been to Ireland, feel I know the place.

Here is a sentence I particularly like:  I accept the complication, the obstacle to writing, with gratitude:  it widens the boundary region between established truth and unstable imaginings that is my preferred territory and through which my book prowls to its conclusion.

I finished LISTENING TO THE WIND yesterday with the satisfaction of knowing that the two other books of the trilogy, THE LAST POOL OF DARKNESS and A LITTLE GAELIC KINGDOM, await.

The WALL STREET JOURNAL recently ran an article about the above Winslow Homer painting, Kissing the Moon, which I had not previously seen.  The author points out the mysterious and unanswerable questions:  what are these men doing out there well offshore?  Just sitting?  Just waiting?  For what?  Each looking a different direction.  The man in the stern, who may have been Homer’s favorite nephew,  dressed for hunting, not fishing.  Rough seas with the diagonal wave providing tension as I learned years ago from the chance photo I took from the inflatable of a swamped CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE. 

And the distant moon seemingly so close.

Spring in Chicago is fickle.  Yesterday was almost summer.  73F/23C.  So Carol drove us to the lake front in mid-afternoon for drinks and an early dinner.  Our favorite walk is down there, a mile long loop, starting in the parking lot, climbing the 120 steps up to the top of the bluff, than along it until a road takes us down to lake level and back to the car.  Lately we have been almost alone there.  Yesterday we were not.  A few of the young even ventured knee deep into the still 45F/7C water.  We set up our chairs on a narrow strip of grass and enjoyed looking out at the calm water.  In a few days the low temperatures are forecast again to be near freezing.

I am rereading the collected poems of one of my favorite poets the Greek, C.P. Cavafy.  Here is one.

1 comment:

Webb said...

Thanks, Guy. I am looking forward to returning to Connemara next week. We are this evening out of the apartment and in a hotel in transit. I’ll order the next two books in the trilogy to be delivered to Hilton Head next week and go on to the Aran island books afterwards. He was an original.