The terrain is different here. Emerging from the dank overgrowth, it still clings to my skin like morning dew on grass. The flies are gone now and the view is open; hedges no longer hide the sea. I pause as I step off the man made trail of earth and stones and onto sand. Rough, gritty Irish sand. On inspection, each grain is visibly a different shade; black, white, pinks and blues, all congregate into a uniformity of colour. When viewed from afar they are a constellation of stars, but each one is unique in origin. I sit on the dry part of the beach and slip off my shoes, allowing my feet and toes to fully submerge. Down closer to shore the sand morphs into flat stones, perfect for skimming. But the atmosphere here isn’t right for that. It’s so very still. Why can’t I hear the sea? I’ve never been to a beach before without the caterwauling of gulls, waves crashing or lolling in, children laughing, dogs barking. Not even the wind.
I stand, dusting the universe off my jeans, and survey behind me. It’s early February and starkly frigid; surely there shouldn’t be leaves on the trees? But this house before me is occluded by the vibrant, waxed leaves of a row of poplar trees, protecting it from the elements. I make a slow approach towards it. Slow by choice, not by necessity, as there are no barriers to access the path, no overgrowth, or thorns, or broken walls. But yet, something is pulling at my gut, stopping me from spiralling into an out of control orbit and becoming lost in this oddity of a place.
Step after step, my concentration drips undiluted onto the earth path below my feet, grounding me. As I approach the tree row, I notice that it is maintained. Snowdrops and bluebells adorn the sides of the path peeking out to shyly greet the start of spring. The leaves of the trees are so still. They choose not to rustle and dance in a sea breeze. Passing their border, I finally notice the house properly, and judging from its size I initially expect a level of grandeur. I’m not sure if it’s Georgian, it has a similar style high rectangular windows and ceilings, but I’m not aware that Georgian houses could be made out of wood. The wooden slats are peeling their once white paint. They are neglected, much like the interior net curtains, tatty and tea stained with age. Alternative windows have spider web breaks running through them, not enough to let anything in, but similarly, nothing can escape. This house is a cadaver in the land of the living; surrounded by unfettered life, yet it somehow adds an explanation to the strangely alien landscape that envelops it.
I’m rooted here now, like the shrubbery around me, becoming part of the view before me. Will I still be here, a part of this place, to greet the next person who crosses this path? All senses of time and self are becoming lost; my proprioception skewed; I no longer possess any awareness of me. The sky around the house has changed from dusky grey into a papyrus of navy velvet, unadorned by stars. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to see, that, which is so very obvious to me now, as it has stood before me for an unencumbered period of time; the face of this house that greets me. And so, untangling my roots from the earth I take an unsure step of growth forward into the acceptable unknown. The air is becoming thick, soup-like, stretching its tenuous fingers down my throat and into my lungs, squeezing at the alveoli. But I don’t really need oxygen. I am still, still like the wind, still like the trees, still like time.