The Sea in Winter

Children playing, having fun.

Someone was asking me the other day what the

Frozen in time, the familiar - unfamiliar.

beach and the sea were like in the winter when it was freezing. Usually the salt air prevents too much ice forming but last Christmas with the massive drop in temperature there was ice everywhere.

The beach at Portstewart was like something from CS Lewis.

The water run off from the hills made the stalactites, meanwhile the water lying in rockpools and little rivulets had frozen solid. Whilst I’m no fan of the bitter cold but I hope we see this again.

Last week I travelled down south, it was four degrees colder inland than it was at the sea. This would be common enough. Last winter also, my mother for the first time saw the two rivers in Omagh frozen over.

Our ones are looking forward to more snow because last year we had hours of fun sliding down the fairways at Portstewart golf club.

As children we used old fertilizer bags or whatever sort of plastic sheeting we could get to fly down the hills at the Camowen Hill home. Nowadays we used plastic sleighs and sliders that you can also use in the  dunes at the beach even when the weather is fine.

Whatever, the snow brings out the child in each of us. Hard to resist taking a furtive slide to yourself, even if it means falling on your arse. Better to have tried to slide, than stood like a square. Eh?

from The Sea in Winter by Derek Mahon.

But morning scatters down the strand
Relics of last night's gale-force wind.
Far out, the Atlantic faintly breaks,
Seaweed exhales among the rocks,
And fretfully the spent winds fan
the Cenotaph and the lifeboat mine.
From door to door the Ormo van
Delivers, while the stars decline.

This is where Jimmy Kennedy wrote
'Red Sails in the the Sunset'. Blue
And Intimate, Elysian
And neighbourly, the Inishowen
Of Joyce Carey and Red Hugh
Gleams in the distance. On a clear day
You can see Jura and Islay
Severe against the Northern Sky

Portstewart, Portrush and Portballintrae
Une beau pays mal habité. . .

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