Northwords Now Issue 37

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Loss, Moods, Weather

by Peter Leslie Watson

It was the first time he had gone to their familiar holiday spot in Port Manec’h since his wife’s death and his moods instantly went on a roller coaster ride matching the inconstant weather that blew in from the Atlantic.  Brittany was changeable at the best of times, but this year seemed more so than usual.  Or perhaps, he thought, it was he that was more unsettled.

Wednesday had started grey and drizzly as his grandsons set off on their sailing lesson.  Grey suited him.  Grey was how he felt a lot of the time: halfway between the sunny elation of remembering a treasured memory that he and she had shared and the black despair of the realisation that there could be no new shared memories.  In future, his memories would be his alone.

At noon, the sun came out and he had lunch with his daughter and grandsons on the patio of La Châtaigneraie.  The blue sky with white clouds and the blue-green sea dotted with small boats with colourful sails made him think of the Mediterranean.  His wife had said just that a year ago as they finished a bottle of wine and watched their grand-sons building sand castles and flinging themselves off the diving platform.

Thursday started out dreary as well and his grand-sons got drenched when a sudden squall caught them unaware in their tiny boat.  But the sailing had gone well and they returned for lunch with enthusiastic tales of how they had almost capsized, disaster averted only by the skill and strength of the eight year-old, a version enthusiastically disputed by the six-year old.  It rained throughout lunch and the sea, the sky, the clouds, and even the hills took on a sullen, leaden greyness.  Little by little, the far side of the cove disappeared into the grey mist.  The yellow jib-sails of three small catamarans provided solitary splashes of colour, as if an artist, refusing to yield to the unrelenting grey, could not resist three bold, defiant brushstrokes.

He sat on the patio until all the other diners had left, finished his wine and set off for their holiday cottage, the blue and white of his umbrella underscoring his own determination to refuse to settle for grey.  She would never have allowed that.