And just like that, it's now officially spring (and the start of another year in my life); but here in the UK we've been hit with a gust of glacial temperatures and snow the like of which I've not seen in all my years of association with these isles. Of course as a Canadian, I find all the hoopla faintly humorous, (it's really just a few inches people), but the fact is they are simply not equipped to deal with snow of any real quantity here.
Anyway, the weather made for a very atmospheric experience of the beautiful and forlorn Northumberland coast, where we hiked the coastal path last week. It seemed to evoke the history of the peoples that built the magnificent castles and abbeys studded along the beaches, conjuring the mournful Gaelic tunes which lie deep within the heritage I inherit on my mother's side.
And speaking of my mother, the long walks in conditions not conducive to extended conversations provided other hidden benefit besides atmosphere.
Here's the thing: H and I spend so much time together, and even, because of the nature of our work, away from others, that it's easy for me to forget the casual way in which
I know all mother/daughter relationships are fraught, with or without the challenges and uncertainties and feelings of inadequacy that come with infertility and loss. But in moments like those last week, I was reminded of the inevitable divide, the very natural inabilities to relate (on both sides), that have developed as the space between our respective journeys to motherhood widens.
But having said that, the time outdoors was wonderful and invigorating and calming, as it always is for me.
Aside from the gorgeous views, all the freshly caught crab we could eat in cosy pubs along the way, and the soothing sound of the waves, what did we encounter on our hiking expedition? While walking along the coastal path to one of the aforementioned castle ruins (pictured below), we came across a scene that nearly broke my heart. A beautiful seal pup, clearly not more than a few weeks old, had been washed ashore by the violent waves. He was deposited a very long way from the water's edge, his mother nowhere in sight, and had suffered an injury to his eye, which was heavily swollen shut and releasing a sickly looking fluid. He kept lifting his little flapper to shield and sooth the eye, while annoying hikers who I would have liked to
As soon as we reached the nearest car park, we put a call in to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who were listed as the contact point in case of discovery of a sick or injured seal. (Why no Parks Warden, I don't know). Five telephone calls - from the RSPCA (who said they couldn't help because by the time we finally got through to their call centre they couldn't be sure of the pup's exact location anymore - thank you RSPCA!), to the National Seal Rescue to the Scarborough Sealife Centre to British Sea Divers' Mammal Rescue - and many angst-ridden hours later, I finally got through to someone who agreed to send out a scout who would locate and treat the seal pup. So back in my flat and already re-packing for my urban idyll, I had only to hope this story ended as happily as other, reassuring but even more surprising cases of seal pup rescue. I hope they found that little guy and got him back to the water. I can even dream that he was reunited with his mother.
On reflection, I don't know what worried me more about this episode though: the thought of this lonesome baby seal suffering far from the care of its mother, or the fact that I sometimes now find it easier to empathize with and relate to the predicaments of a seal mama and baby than relate to my own (human) family.
|A glimpse of H and I, pre-seal discovery|