Sunday, 28 June 2015

Blue

Last year at the launch of the Walking On Wyre map in Garstang Norman Hadley read a wonderful poem, ‘Learning The Truth About Kingfishers’ that explained how the blue flash we associate with kingfishers is a conjuring between light and feather.

We call the sky blue, when more often than not it appears white or grey. Same with the sea – although Homer saw it as ‘wine-dark’. Today the colour of Morecambe Bay is that spectacular silvery grey that cannot be replicated. There could be no Twitter storm about that (or possibly not…).
 
So is blue a trick of the light, a colour of interpretation, of cultural context? Perhaps that’s why it is the colour most readily associated with mood and music… Perhaps that’s why it has become the default colour of those two great elements in nature: sky and sea. They are not fixed in the way trees and grass are fixed. They are temperamental – in the sense they are so much the natural environment they both change it and change with it.
 
I think this is why I love the sea so much. It is the nearest thing I know that allows me to become absorbed by the natural world. It is not the same from one moment to the next. Now I look at the bay and think I can see dimples of blue as the wind picks up and grazes the shallower water.
 
I can get closer to the sea than I can sky. I can sail or swim. In doing so, I lose myself. Or rather I lose a part of myself in the course of trying to survive it. Which part? Probably the part that is impervious to interpretation or tricks of the light, the part that just responds, the instinctual understanding of body in body. I wonder if this is the part that has grown over my creatureliness as the skin I require to have to be human and live amongst humans. This all sounds very romantic until you remember we came from this great body of water, before we became who we are now.
 
Now I look at Morecambe Bay and see the colour of wet skin. 

 
I thought I’d leave you with two poems. Norman’s in case you missed it before, and one I wrote on finding myself 70 miles from the sea after six weeks sailing around Scotland.

Learning The Truth About Kingfishers
The planet lost a little of its patina
the day he told me that a kingfisher’s
not really blue. “Oh no,” he intoned,
“there’s not a hint of pigment
in their plumage. Deep in shade,
they fade to just another LBJ.”
It seems that something in their feather-hairs
can scatter sun to conjure colour from a blur of air,
as if there is a world of brilliance somewhere
the bird reveals as it unzips the river.

Norman Hadley

 
Sealegs
After
she cannot venture inland
without feeling
even on the stillest day of the year
reduced by the moor
like a Rothko on its postcard ―
heather mopping the light,
despite her staring
at the sky’s unblinking blue. 

Sarah Hymas
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