Walking clears my head. Especially here, on the eastern lip of the Atlantic, the fresh winds gusting in over Galway Bay clear the cobwebs of editing and writing from my mind. When I need a break from work – from books, paragraphs, sentences, words, letters – I walk.
Sometimes, though, the letters follow me. This one gave me a proper surprise, almost glowing in the wet autumn ground:
It’s been a weird year, weather-wise. All the seasons have gone weird. Ireland had a summer so dry and baked that the grass died and the trees, stressed, began shedding their coats. Then autumn turned stormy and ransacked them, the usual crackle of sloughed-off leaves underfoot replaced by a sodden mush.
Now that things are vaguely normal again for the time of year, it’s a relief to see some autumn colour survive, and gradually fade as it falls earthward. So I was looking around as I walked, taking in the changes, when I noticed the graffito at my feet.
I can’t decide if the Q needs the leaves more than the leaves need the Q. Aesthetically, I mean. In another context, with more letters, it would be an unexceptional Q, an unadorned stencil in white on rough slate grey. Here, by itself on the footpath, it’s a veritable mystery.