The Caravan

The weather these June days is unbelievable. The garden is bursting: lush and vibrant. We head off to the caravan at the first opportunity.

Even in the late afternoon it is still roasting, but the heat is dusted with a tiny, delicious, sea breeze.

Underwater photography, 'The surface, Tara bay during an evening swim.'

I walk into the tranquil swell. It is very clear, and I can see the warped sea bed through the slowly rippling lens of the water. I catch sight of a flatfish taking off, its movement shattering the effectiveness of its perfect camouflage. The water is so much warmer than in Norway, and it is easier to push deeper and submerge myself.

The colours fade into one another. The tone, almost too perfect, looks airbrushed: light to dark, the sky’s vastness to the horizon, wave crest to trough. The air is still, the water moving softly and gently. I swim backwards and forwards, soaking up the richness of the experience with my eyes and skin.

Susan Hughes artist, 'The surface, Tara bay during an evening swim.'

I’m back again after a few days. Now the wind is cool and sharp, while the hot sun beats down; it’s a perfect combination to burn unsuspecting pale skin a deep shade of red.

I cannot motivate myself to swim. I just wade in and look. Nearby, there is a curious seal that has come to check out us invasive humans. He is so close that I can see his whiskers. He points his nose to the sky, bobs up and down a few more times, looks at me once more and silently disappears.

Susan Hughes artist, 'Wave crashing, Tara bay swim.'

The Irish summer soon back-pedals into spring with showers and rainbows. There are little birds everywhere. I hit one with the car. It’s not strong or wise enough to avoid the big machine. I leave it behind, guiltily watching in the rear-view mirror as, just about alive, it flaps a one-winged limping waltz at the side of the road.

I walk to clear my head. Immediately I am immersed in a surround-sound palette of noise; bird song and chatter, rain beginning on the caravan roof, bees, distant tractor engines, sheep bleating, a plane high above.  Amongst all this the sea is quiet.

Soon enough the ride-on lawnmower arrives, focussing its attention on a particular patch of grass right beside me. I curse it, go inside, and slam the thin caravan door.

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