I have seen 'Irish Roulette' defined as sending something valuable by 'An Post', the Irish mail service. That maybe theeth-grinding true, but to me it also pertains to photographing waves while the tide is rising. Like yesterday, at the Doolin Triangle.
One could describe this boulder-worn terrace as a rock-strewn waste land, but it invokes the fascination of droves of day-trippers and storm-watchers, armed with from telephone cameras to elaborate tripod tele-equipments.
The terrace itself is cut by crevices, cracks and clefts, small limestone islands, trench-trimmed with dots of scurvy grass, leaf-shooting star weed and washed out creeper roots, that often hold little more than a double step, all smoothly worn down at the edges by the impact of millennia of rocks driven across by the temper of the tides. Walking across is a challenge to the feet. No pedestrian beat suffices and recklessness may be punished by stumble and fall at the least and a broken ankle as runner-up. Tenderly articulated as they appear they are so solid that there is little chance for future archeologists to find a fossilized footprint of one of the countless sport shoes that launch across.
The natural stand-off at wave watching is the divide between dry and wet rock. Which does not necessarily immediately imply you get washed when you tread the wet. Only that you've got to keep a keen eye upon the waves approaching. Neither does remaining on dry rock guarantee you won't get wet.
Waves come in sets and it's not necessarily the highest which one has to fear most. Their power is broken by the back-wash of the predecessor, meaning that a comparably modest wave with little brake-water can be surprisingly more aggressive.
Like yesterday there was a frenzy of white water boiling in blinding whites. Now I'm not a racist, so I can't help these guys were Indian. But I do have an aversion to impoliteness. While we were discreetly honoring the ocean's boundary, they jumped the queue by treading where even angels would not dare and blocked our churning panorama. I told Isa to have her camera at the ready, but she was too disgusted by the impertinence. Then to our delight we found a friendly gesture in the ocean when a freak wave nearly swept one of the brutes of his feet. While he was shedding his thrashing like a wet sheep dog the other two where roaring with laughter in consonance with the ocean. Now a caring Irish gentleman told me years ago that one should never turn one's back to the ocean. His words, like the fresh experience of their mate, would have been ill-spent upon them, because they did. Then another massive torrent rose and even stretched beyond where we stood. I sprinted, with years of rock-running experience out of waters way, only to see Isa standing there, valiantly, feet slightly apart for solidity, like a rock in the ocean, braving the slosh up to the ankles, smiling a like on her face book. The guys crumbled into dry refuge and once again our stage was set for mayhem. The ocean does not discriminate, it's there and it's mighty. It's generous in beauty and merciless to those who come to sip too deep from it's abundance.
Meanwhile on the pier a massive chunk of rock bears witness to the intimidation of a storm wave that has flung it across the concrete pier wall. These days at high tide it is advised to keep an eye on the approaching waves to avoid being cascaded by the wrath of the elements. The 'END OF THE PIER' is clearly marked in yellow bolds, just to make sure. The rusty ladder that descends into the brine is a top-notch interface for the dolphin as the stone tapped ding-dong is broadcast under water. The continuation of the slipway under water suggests a splendid visibility until you realize that at low tide the water is only two meters deep.
No sign of Dusty, though she did come in twice a few days ago. The sound of the crashing waves must be deafening to her hearing, but the hazard of being thrown on the rocks will not overly impress her. I've seen her navigate in milling maelstroms in the very shadow of the 'Sperm Whale Rock' at P'watch, even 'beaching' herself into the massive spill of the 'Bathtub'. Hers is a world of forces that carry their warning before impact, like a cyclist in city traffic, and her agility to mock peril, her elegant slipping and sliding and her explosive escape darts make her superior to the menace the weather can concoct.
But the persistent rumble strips that border the rocks is a nuisance she can easily flee from into the open sea, where you can't hurt yourself on water anyway. A fortnight away, at the break of March, the ferries will resume sailing and then there'll be the moment of truth. Will Dusty adopt her pilot graces again, will she be bow-breaching with the incoming vessels and have them leaning over from flocking passengers?
Already aficionados gather, like plant life gaining strength under boulders and in fissures, still in layers of overcoats and heavily scarfed, 'Is the dolphin still here, have you seen Dusty lately, will she stay for the summer?'
Dusty's been spotted at Pollenawatch as well. She might take up commuting again between the glamour of the heavily populated pier of Doolin and the bottom of the fragrant stumble path that leads to the rough-toothed Rockièra of Fanore.
I throw a long-distance stone from the pier. It's but a far cry, but you never know. And here is where 'never' can suddenly turn into the clasic 'There she blows'.