To the sea! To the sea!
Follow my feet up the Wearmouth quays
Where the gull brays
And memory keeps
Where old men watch the turn of days
And graves still pray
Past shipwrights’ industry
Looking for my heart to be
Rooted in a land where my
Soul is told to breathe
But I am not free
Wild heights and quarried ways
Hewn by hands in elder days
Or set by mind at dawn’s design
Still call to me, still call to me
And in the pounding, grey-lit surf
Waves convulsing, giving birth
I send my spirit to the wind
I soar from here, I’m gathered in
I’ve called this land my home, and for it
Given all to bless, restore it
To my gifts, the land has shuddered
Cannot claim me as a mother
So to the wind and to the sea
I will return where I am free
(You are the only Ten-I-see)
For my heart beats Tsalagi
The above attempts to reconcile and understand my heart’s churnings while in Northern England. Photos are from Sunderland. Paintings completed in Tennessee in early 2014. All rights reserved.
Béla Fleck introduced me to the concept of “throw down your heart“. The idea is that you are about to embark on a journey from which you will never return, so as a last act of love for the land and life you’ve known, you throw down your heart, you leave part of yourself there, you are never the same again. About six weeks ago I threw down my heart on Roker Beach in Sunderland, an echo of a similar experience in April on Lindisfarne. Today, a few days before flying home, I returned to pick up my heart again in preparation to come home whole.
I went for a ramble on an overcast morning, determined to find a sandy Sunderland beach. After crossing the Wear, skirting the National Glass Center, and cutting through the yacht club, I arrived at my destination!
An order of chips from a beachfront shop, complete with salt and vinegar, made an appropriate lunch.
I wandered back through the city, popping into thrift stores and avoiding the off-again, on-again drizzle. Altogether, my ramble brought me home 5 hours after setting out – a proper walk indeed!
A few turns and 25 minutes’ walk from my flat is Hendon Beach on the North Sea. What a joy to walk alongside the surf this morning! Don’t let the name fool you – it’s not exactly a beach – but there were folks about walking dogs and casting lines into the waves. One gentleman and his grandson were particularly concerned for my well-being as I perched on the wet boulders, eventually encouraging me to clamber back up on the concrete. I tried to explain I’m “from the States” where we do that sort of thing (i.e. hike right to the edge). “You’re from Florida State?” he replied, surprised. I laughed, said “yessir” when he adjured me to look after myself. I did – no slips or trips while questing for photos. Hope I run into those fellas again. Hope their kindness is repaid in joy!
As usual, none of my photos have been edited. Enjoy!