After many months of not really believing in the place, after ferry-boats and twisty roads, after a night in a twenty-first century cave where the dogs and Sharon and I slept fitfully but always with one ear open to the strangeness of the teeming world – I approached the Tullaghobegley River for the first time.
She spoke only the once. Clearly enough. Clear in the way that some people have when they have no intention of repeating themselves. She said, matter-of-factly, mid-flow so to speak, “What are you? What will you do here?” I was a little taken aback. For months I had been imagining what I would say, how I would smile and be open. But not really open, I now understood. I had not expected her to be so simply in charge of our meeting. I hesitated. “Well, I can tell you what I have been until now, what things I have done.” (“Such things,” I thought to myself but did not say out loud.) The river flowed on, not even raising an eyebrow to my non-answer to her perfectly clear question. She had no intention of repeating herself. A river, as mankind has known for some millennia, does not repeat itself.
And so there I was on a riverbank. A bagful of irrelevant pasts. A present ‘dropped out of nothing’, asking, to echo Hughes’ Wodwo, “What am I, nosing here, turning leaves over…”
I turned to walk back up to the house that will eventually become a home. Rebuffed and a stranger, even to myself. Just then a wren appeared. It was very busy back and forth building a nest. It brought moss and bark and even a piece of wool. It stopped occasionally and queried my presence with a little bob. Have you ever wondered what the physical embodiment of a wink might look like? I think it might be a wren.