The Story Behind the Picture Volume 2
Ripples, Tramore Strand, County Waterford
During our first disastrous photography trip, we learned exactly how not to do things. We planned on making improvements for our second trip. Instead of having a cross-country marathon, we decided to rent a cottage for a week and limit the expedition to a given area. For reasons not entirely known to me, Peter selected West Cork.
It was the end of October 2005 and I was bummed. I'd been looking forward to the trip, but the week before it began, I had to start work on a three month contract. I'd been in Ireland for six months and had only done about three weeks of casual work for a small software company in the Digital Hub. This contract was going to provide my first steady job and there was no way I could pass it up or ask for a week off right at the start.
My only consolation was that the last Monday in October is a bank holiday, so I would at least be able to join Peter for the start of the trip. Then I would take the train back to Dublin on the Monday.
We left early on the Saturday, both of us excited to get out of the house and see new places. Instead of going the direct route, we decide to drive down along the coast. It was going to be a long day of driving, but I was prepared for it and we were definitely not hungover. I felt liberated and giddy. We'd been living in Peter's parents' house for four months. It was going well enough, but his mother and I often clashed over silly things. A long weekend in our own space was exactly what I needed.
Peter decided that we would stop at Tramore Strand in Waterford. The beach there is gorgeous, just a strip of sand stretching out as far as you can see. The wind was strong and it was threatening to rain, but not even the lousy weather could dampen my instant love of the place.
Another thing we learned on Trip 1 was that it was vital for me to have something interesting to do while Peter worked. Like a kid sitting in his dad's office with a colouring book and crayons, I needed something to keep me quiet. Since I'd just started playing camogie (or really, attempting to play camogie), I took my hurley and a couple of sliotars to fill the time.
Tramore Strand was built for pucking around and the beach was nearly empty at the early hour. I wasn't adept at all, but I was having a good time. The only downside was having to chase after the sliotar myself.
Then Captain showed up. Captain was a stocky mid-sized white dog. In my five years volunteering at an animal shelter in Chicago, he was the sort of dog we would euphemistically label a "terrier mix." (Any dog with a good temperament and the tell-tale wide jaws of a pit bull terrier was inevitably called a terrier mix.)
Captain wasn't interested in me. Oh no. Captain was all about the sliotar. I checked around for his person, who was fishing at the edge of the beach and didn't seem to mind if his dog talked to strangers. So, it looked like my dearest wish has been granted - we'd always said that pucking around would be so much better with a dog to chase the errant sliotars. Plus, I was missing Kodiak and Caper. Captain was a little white blur sent to distract and amuse me.
We spent ages playing - me hitting or trying to hit the sliotar, Captain tearing after it and then dropping it at my feet. His whole body shook with excitement and his tail flipped back and forth continually. If he could talk, he would have been shouting "Again! Again! Again" with all the vigour of a sugared-up toddler. I didn't figure Captain was much older than one or two. He was all energy and enthusiasm.
At one point, a chubby black lab lumbered past and paused, begging to be included in our game. Captain had no interest in the interloper, but I was sucked in by the pleading doe eyes. I slapped a sliotar her way and she narrowly beat Captain to it. Unlike Captain, however, she had no interest in turning it over. Her person scurried over and managed at length to extract the slimy sliotar from her dog's clenched jaws.
"That's it," I promised Captain, "it's all you now." And so we played until Captain's person came over to collect him. It was from this guy that I learned Captain's name and that the dog was nine years old and would chase a ball from sun-up til sundown and all night long too, if you'd let him. "You'll quit long before Captain ever gets tired."
It was a delightful morning. Peter got a good shot of the beach. I had some precious blood pressure lowering exercise/dog time. See, they're not all tales of misery and woe.