The road was shut last Thursday and Friday but we thought we’d give it a go Sunday morning, early.
Still chillingly cold, windy and wet but no snow in sight, even as we climbed, in second gear all the way though as I was scared to use the accelerator too fiercely.
I drove off road, down a track that was concreted over from the world war past; I think they’d done tank training up there. It was safe to park as large concrete triangles were still in place to stop vehicles one presumes tipping, top and tailing into the sea far below. Wales wasn’t in sight thirty miles or so across the channel. Unusual I thought, as generally even on quite misty days a vague outline of South Wales can still be just made out. Or may be that’s because one knows it is there and the light on sea plays tricks.
I let the dogs out of the tailgate and removed their leads. Even they baulked at the stinginess and harshness of the wind. It was calm, milder and hinting at pleasant when we’d left home just a few feet above sea level quarter of an hour before.
She said ’Mum, do you think there’s anything strange about the sea?’
I went and stood silently at her side. There was something strange but I didn’t know what.
‘The sea isn’t moving’ she said after a short while.
She was right. It was like looking at a photograph. I thought I was looking at large white tipped waves way out at sea, but they weren’t moving.
The sea was frozen, incredibly so, it really was. Now, you may have guessed so, but it seemed then and still does now that that was just too weird and incredible, and looking at it had certainly been strange.
A little further on during our walk we heard deep groans and moans, echoing eerie sounds that could only have been ice creaking and cracking and the sea thawing. I was thinking the iced sea had entered the Bristol Channel from the north Atlantic, perhaps, or down, down, deep down currents from the Irish Sea rising, I am ignorant about such things, whatever, the sea was frozen.
After our walk we drove down to the harbour to see if little icebergs were drifting into the seaside resort, but no, in the space of a mile or less and an hour or so the frozen sea had turned into cascading, pummeling waves.
The following day, which would have been my mother’s eighty fourth birthday, I attended the funeral of a friend; it was a ceremony rather than a service as my suggestion of having a Humanist Celebrant had been adopted. Religious relatives of the deceased weren’t too happy with that and said they’d pray for me too.
The ceremony contained music by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Elvis ~ perfect choices by the family for the one they’d lost, and the words and prose equally so.
I was very moved by a few passages by Boris Pasternak, which when I get a copy I shall post here; Pasternak so often uses the symbolism of water and seascape metaphors, which he had for these words, words that touched me very deeply.