I am working on a eco-weird story, a new novel, but am finding a hard time to be able to really sit down and write. I’m up to chapter 4, though. As I noted earlier, part of it is set in Ireland, and it helped very much to go there and see some of the exact places I had imagined in my head, especially the Cliffs of Moher and the real Lake Isle of Innisfree.
It has been so hot here lately that my run this morning was a “beat the heat” run at 6:30 am, and even then it was sweltering hot. I listened to the same album I heard when running across the cliffs in Ireland (“Silverball” by Barenaked Ladies), and though I was profusely sweating and uncomfortable this morning, the typical happiness when running and listening to good music set in, and even though I only had the time for a couple miles, I had a great wake-up moment this morning. And the music reminded me of Ireland and where my novel is going.
First, the Ireland memories. I still look back on that trip as a journey of enlightenment, beauty, and exploration. The crazy storms, the white horses, the thousands of seabirds on the cliffs, the old old ways in a long-forgotten pastoral life, the ancient cathedrals and ruins, the coming alive of Yeats’ words and worlds, the lively pubs with friendly folks, the misty ocean…these things all were beyond my normal window to the world and modern society that is so concerned about self and possessions. To place myself in that idyllic otherworld was to lose some identity, enter a fugue state, and re-imagine life in a different perspective.
Running this morning under entirely different circumstances, a half world away, in a part urban, part forested area during a heat wave was far different from running atop the cool, wind-swept cliffs, which were so isolated and lonely. I ran before work today, not at leisure, particularly–whereas back then, in June, I had all the time in the world, and in fact, ended up in Doolin to browse around an old bookstore after the run, and then continue to waste the rest of the day away.
Yet, the music unifies as I heard it then and now. It’s what Faraday in “Lost” might have called a constant. Music can transform time and space. In the song “Toe to Toe,” off the “Silverball” album, there’s a lyric that goes:
There’s a body of water
Dividing you and me
I’m not afraid of getting wet
This lyric reminds me of my time there and here, and it crosses a sea from me to me.
I don’t remember when I first heard the entire album, sometime last year when it came out, but in Ireland, I specifically listened to it when running along the Cliffs of Moher trail and once more the night before we left to spend the final night and day in Dublin, marking the end of our trip. That night I was up on the west coast cottage’s second floor, in a room that had three big windows open to the west. There was a magnificent sunset that evening; it was a mix of clear sky and stormy sky, producing the most transient and brilliant colors. The sun set late during the early Irish summer, close to 11:00 p.m. Mom had gone to bed. Morgan was reading. I was drinking the last of our red wine, listening to “Silverball,” and gazing sadly out the windows, where the sea and sky began to merge in color. And I really felt sentimental, as if I were leaving my heart behind. In a way I did. We can fall in love with places.
Well, writing my novel is a way to revisit it, remember it, and envision it in a speculative way. The music, the writing–these constants–tie me back. But I think this novel is also important in the story it tells. It is about a lost love, a stolen love. It is about how societal breakdowns can mirror ecological losses. I’m excited about it.
Even though I ran this morning, I am hiking again 2-3 miles this afternoon, probably the hottest day of the year. I’m really enjoying these daily outings and heat of the sun and great music. I decided to stop the 10K training for now. I am really past that point now (especially the short runs, being too short), and it feels like going backward. As soon as fall starts, I will continue with the longer weekend runs up to 10K. Right now it’s just too hot! Yet not too hot for a hike over to the lake, listening once again to that beautiful constant–the music tying me to Irish memory.
I will arise and go now…