Over the last few days I have been photographing water. Water that is white, water that is bottle green, water that is blackish-blue, water that is calm and rose-tinted in an estuary at sunset. Water is everywhere. Within and without.
Rachel Carson, more than any writer I am familiar with, writes about the sea in such a beautifully understated yet assured way. I wonder what she would make of A Year In Beadnell? My feeling is that she would approve and as I walk the beaches and dunes I can’t help feel her there beside me, in her prose. Every evening I read a section of one of her sea books. Her work reminds me I am an animal, like every other species on the planet. And that for all my consciousness and poetry and art and dreams I am no more important (or less important) than the sea creatures and marine plants I am meeting as this project progresses.
When I was very young and a bit upset my mother used to fill the sink with water and stand me on a chair so I could play in it. I had model whales and dolphins and would spend hours splashing about. I had no idea that I’d grow up to be a writer myself and that Carson and her water-filled books would come to mean to much to me.
Now, all I can think of is twofold: firstly I must invest in a wetsuit so I can stay in the sea longer with my camera and secondly, I really must – as a matter of some urgency – write the book I have always wanted to write about Carson. Her prose and her work is a sea in itself. Her work is the sea and the sea is her work. All I can do is watch and listen and learn. Northumberland is the canvas, our North Sea the water I have. It is more than enough. It is all of us.