Poem on the tideline

Sun after rain and
The sea in-flowing
Wave after wave after wave.

While I live, let me live.

When I die, let me rot where I fall,
Nurturing the worms
But remember me
Ankle-deep in the incoming tide
And eternity.

Journal poem

I do not like myself tonight.
I snap off the cavilling complaint of the news
And in the sudden silence hear the wind scour the rocks.

I used to have a friend who told me once
"When you are sad or sore,
Make something: a poem, a table, a meal."

I measure flour, knead dough, and set some bread to rise
And think of urban_homestead baking bread
So far away, still waiting.

Bread rising, dog walked, friends thought of, poem forming,
It's not such a bad evening, such a bad world,
I settle down to read, with tea and whisky.

Fifty.

I feel so old. And yet, inside I feel the same age I always have been. Which is nonsense, I suppose, but I don't feel any different from when I was fifteen. No wiser, just older.

Lunchtime stop

It wasn't actually raining, but it was grey, the sort of sky that seems like one solid block of cloud hanging about three feet above your head. It had been raining, and it seemed as though it would be raining again soon. It's November, that's what November is like.

I had Gelert in the car with me, and we'd been visiting a client out near Newgale. Because it wasn't raining, I decided we could have a quick run on Newgale sands, and pick up an early pub lunch there before seeing another four clients in the afternoon on a route that curved back and ended up with us at home.

The beach was, well, my Nan always used to call it "bracing" when the wind comes straight off the sea and through your clothes to your bones. There's a big pile of pebbley rocks -- man-made sea defences -- and then there's sand, stretching out to the sea. The waves were rushing in fast as if they had somewhere else to be and breaking with a rush and falling back. There was absolutely nobody else on the beach, and very few prints. Sometimes in winter there are some lunatic surfers in the water, but not yesterday. Gelert barked and put up a seagull then went running down towards the wet sand.

I followed along behind, up on the packed sand that was still dry. I was cold, but that doesn't seem to bother Gelert. I was about to call him, to turn and head back to the nice warm pub, when quite suddenly the wind ripped the clouds apart over the water, showing more clouds, but up beyond that, blue sky. For an instant there the sun shone through, like a spotlight. It illuminated a yacht out on the sea, which I hadn't even noticed was there before, a little yacht with a white sail, sailing west in that sudden sunlight on water that wasn't grey any more but green, just as if it was summer.

Leaves

I know you're not supposed to do it any more, but nothing says "Autumn" to me like the smell of burning leaves.

Relativism

Someone on my Friends List, in a locked post, was talking about relativism in a way that made me think about it. I've been thinking about it on and off all week.

It seemed to me that she, and other people posting in her comments, believed that relativism meant thinking that all views in the world were equally true -- and, this being so, for someone espousing it, it wouldn't matter what you believed, so how could you decide?

It seems to me that actually, relativism is rather the belief that all views are equally valid, and that most sensible people would argue that there are certain areas in which relativism is applicable and certain areas where it isn't. Morality and ethics are areas where it is, and science, for instance, is an area where it isn't. Or, specifically, anything where there are grey areas, where reasonable people could hold different opinions, such as whether doing something is right.

There's an old joke about the skeptic being asked what colour the horse is and replying "It's white on this side." A pure relativist, if there were any such thing, would, I suppose, reply "I see it as white..." but be accepting to others seeing it as blue, polka-dotted or a cow. But in reality, there isn't much room for reasonable differences about what colour a white horse is, and not even the most convinced relativist in the world would say there was.

When it comes to what is good, where there's a huge ground people have been arguing over since Socrates, then saying your ideas are just as valid as mine, even though we disagree, seems quite sensible. It isn't to say I'm about to lay down my own ideas and take up yours, Fred's or Mrs Evans's. It's that in areas where it's reasonable to disagree, I'll allow that it is reasonable.

I think there are some areas where everyone's a relativist. Taste, for instance. My lovely welshcakes might seem tasteless and dry as dust to you, and neither of us are lying, it's just what we like. And there are people who voluntarily eat curry.

I think the problem arises with areas that to some people are as indisputable as the colour of this side of a horse and to others are very disputed indeed -- like for instance religion. I've seen very firm believers and very firm atheists claim that there is no ground for disagreement from their position.

Relativism isn't the sort of belief people go to the stake for. Like moderation, there are very few fanatics leaping up and insisting everyone allows everyone's opinions validity or else! It doesn't give certainty -- far from it -- and people like to feel sure about things. There'll never be a crusade for it.

Where it wins, I think, is not only in politeness and getting along with people with different opinions, but in encouraging open minds and consideration of many sides of complex questions. Where it doesn't is where you have minds so wide open everything falls out -- or with things like the supposed post-modern consideration of a scientific paper on purely textual grounds.

New Start

sartorias was just asking me if I'd had a nice summer. Well, I did, working hard and keeping my head down, mostly. It's definitely autumn now -- a chill in the air in the mornings, the nights drawing in, and the leaves turning. The surest sign summer's over though is the roads clearing up -- no more tourists. It makes autumn a new beginning, the children back to school, the tourists going away. I think the Jewish New Year has the best of it; it's a much better time for a new start than January.

I've taken to taking Gelert out with me in the car if I'm driving around seeing clients. He likes it, and he's very good about staying in the car when he needs to. Most of the time I can leave the window quite far down for him, and anyway, it hasn't been a very hot summer. Some people don't mind me bringing him in, and he's very good then as well, he walks around a strange room sniffing everything and then settles down next to me. He's quite good for breaking the ice with new people sometimes, it gives us something to talk about before we get down to business. It's also been a good change for him -- before, he stayed home with Gyp, now, he mostly comes out with me. I don't take him when I'm going into the office, of course, but that's usually only a couple of days in the week. I find him a good companion in the car, and usually we stop somewhere and have a good walk -- which means I've been seeing some new bits of the countryside.

Then when we get home, he jumps out when I stop to open the gate and runs up to the house, so he can be there to welcome me when I get out. He's a very intelligent dog. Poll -- and Sue at work as well -- keeps saying I should get another pup, but I couldn't take a pup with me the way I take Gelert, and they still haven't caught that murderer with the gun, whoever it was, and I'd just be worried all the time. It's not as if another dog would replace Gyp anyway. Gelert and I are doing all right together.

Night walk on the beach.

Command of the sea and the deep waters was given by lot not to you, but to me!
Virgil, Aeneid, Book I.

Hey, have you seen the moon
sailing
through all the tattered clouds
reaching a cold hand
brushing off cloud-shreds,
gathering up the sea.

Here, where the water
becomes salt.
Here, where the tide-line
is marked by the weed.
Here where footprints and paw-prints
dissolve...

Have you seen the moon
effortlessly
lighting the storm-night
raising the water,
catching the tides up
like the ragged hem of her dress.

Cantref Gwaelod

As when the great wave curled,
white-topped green
mountain-high
weight of water
sea become sky
hung, poised a moment,
then broke, rushed on, drew back,
washed away our sand castle lives.