On the 18th of June Feargus Callagy, of Freedive Ireland, Caitriona and me had a fabulous swim with Dusty in the harbour of Doolin. One of us was not there. Sean Callagy had been diagnosed with cancer and things were looking very gloomy indeed. Just recently he sent out a newsletter saying things were finally looking up. So just to keep the spirit going, this is for you, Sean.
An offshore wind blows charcoal towards the horizon, where it's cut abruptly by a paperknife. Inisheer awakens in the sun, both the other Aran Islands still slumber on a haze bed. The wind plays with my streamer that waves in sign language, lifts the tip in a lazy curve, then a gust kicks it into a fast flapper. Under the slightly riffled surface the seabed shades in lights and darks. A gannet whites up against the greys and gets lost in profile. A stone-chat echoes the slipping of my drive belt. Surf's down and the water looks clear. Off to Dusty!
The water in the harbour of Doolin was of aquarium quality. Before I could put a foot in the mono I already had a curious spectator, Dusty. As if it is a miracle when I put a fluke on. But we both know, that if she gets a chance, she'll take off with the waterwing. She would just love to shenanigan the humpback, but I doubt if I ever would get it back. Once I get carried by the water she begins to swim in lazy circles. Plenty of everybody, there's a diver on the bottom with a buddy up- and downing about. I see Feargus rush into the water, closely followed by Caitriona. When I rap a drum solo along the waterwing Dusty dallies before me. Oftentimes I tap a fast finger on her beak. Then a pet scratch aside of her throat and she turns sideward. Longer tickles across the folds of her throat. She lets herself be cuddled and caressed, comes very close with her eye to the camera on my forehead. If only it works…
Later it turns out it didn't. Pity, but we're in the moment. Moreover, later it so happened that Feargus' camera captured it(link). I see a severe injury under her eye that has pretty much healed. Stroke it very gently, lovingly. Another one, right above her left flipper. She understands my caution, that I see the pain, the solace I try to give her. We are singularly close together. Your pain is mine. I put my arm around her. We look into each others eyes. A split second, then she sinks from my embrace, turns for a new caress. I draw my fingers across her throat, between her pecs, to that intimate place, turn the top of my finger in it, she delights in my finishing touch, right, done.
Feargus lies on his back on the sea bed and blows ring bubbles, smooth, perfect circles that revolve around their own axis. Would she recognise this? She blows them herself, apparently from enthusiasm, but not very smooth. Would be great if she learned to. Just keep on doing it.
So far this high-summer fragment. The past few days there has been a Category 1 storm. My tent is still standing, to no small measure due to the steel pipe Sean dived for and was so kind as to let me have. The sailcloth did fine, but the flapping of the tarps was rather unhinging. So I bought 21 square meters of heavy canvas for front and rear. The front is in and has reduced the flapping to a whisper. Also I took down most of the walls leading to my old kitchen and heaped them for a high water dike. Can't help being Dutch. And the room this has freed makes up my new car port. Now I can also park the van as a West wind breaker. At the least it takes the wind out of winter.
All photo's and video by courtesy of Feargus Callagy, Freedive Ireland