A Story for our time; dragons.

I focus on the sky again…the clouds are moving across it, dancing and swirling, leaping just for me, and all the fish.

We didn’t mean to go to sea, but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. I focus on the blue sky, it is huge and so very, very blue. I’m sure I knew at some point in my life why the sky is blue but I can’t remember now. My children asked me why the sky was blue last night, and I didn’t know what to tell them, I felt stupid for a moment and then I realised that the internet had obliterated the need to actually learn things, facts, and general knowledge.  My parents’ generation are, in my experience walking encyclopaedias, they know stuff, they learned it parrot fashion at school. I learned my times tables that way too, they have come in useful from time to time, particularly in teaching my own children times tables. I’m sure there is some irony there. Irony is better than ironing, which of course I am also rather good at and have never had much use for that either.

Times tables and ironing won’t help me now.

I think what could help, as I don’t know why the sky is blue and I have no nautical navigational skills, is an acute attention to details. There is not much detail in a blue sky. But the clouds are incredible (when they are there). No two clouds are ever the same, like fingerprints, clouds are like massive fingerprints. The fingerprints of the Great Water God of the sky.

I once read a book by Paulo Coelho, perhaps it was ‘The Valkyries’, or maybe ‘The Alchemist’, I ought to know really as I have read ‘The Alchemist’ at least thirty times. I love that book, that would be my Desert Island Disc book number one, it’s a shame I don’t have it on this boat. I could read it now, but I digress. What I was about to say was that the book, whichever it was, said that if you were feeling bad that you needed to look up at the sky and towards the horizon. I took that and applied it to my life, and it has always helped me. I think I have kept my sanity somehow that way. Bombs could be going off around me, but if I look towards the skyline horizon a deep calm settles slowly over me (ok maybe not actual bombs, but screaming children that are biting each other and won’t get in car seats, not that I have any car seats out here). I look to the tallest trees, if I cannot see the horizon, and I feel the calm setting in. No Trees Out Here. I took trees for granted, I think we all did as a species, we have used and abused them, and they are still our best friends. If I was a tree I would have sacked off humanity long ago.

But there are clouds. Clouds of every shape and size, and I love them. Have you ever really looked into them? They have so much colour, at first they appear just grey, shades of grey, but actually usually they have a great deal of purple in them, blues and greens, and even the darkest ones have light woven through them. Of course everyone notices them at the sunset and sunrise when they are explosions of pink, orange, red, gold and yellow. All of that colour up there in the sky, a continuous Rembrandt painted by the Hands of Nature (or was it the Great Water God of the Sky?) and that is just the beginning. There is the shape too. I am no expert on clouds, I know nothing of their names or types, and I do not care to. I prefer not to classify them, to compartmentalise them, to define them. All of this separation, these clouds are different from those, because of blah blah blah. The modern world is so full of separation.  You cannot separate the ocean, water does as it wishes, and so do clouds. Perhaps that is why I love them so much. You can name their parts but you cannot make them do anything, and water will always return to wherever it came from. Water loves to roll and spiral, people have made many discoveries about water, and wetlands, which all seem to have pointed towards the fact that water is best left alone to do as it wishes. Like me.


I focus on the sky again, it is still blue and big. It is all I can see out here. Sky and sea; maybe that is why the sky is blue? Is it reflecting the sea, which is also blue, or is it green? No that can’t be right. Still it is blue. And the clouds are moving across it, dancing and swirling, like immense wispy grey blue dragons, leaping just for me, and all the fish. The beauty of the sky enchants me, it fuels my imagination, dragons dance across it before my eyes. I wonder if I stare for too long, will I get something like snow blindness? I look down at my hands, and I can’t see them properly, I have stared at the sky for way too long. I close my eyes to rest them but the dragons continue to weave in front of my eyes.

I have a life long fascination with dragons, I think that is because I am part Welsh, part Welsh dragon Y Ddraig Goch.

This makes sense to me, I came from the sea and I have been trying to return to it ever since (the irony of this is not wasted on me). I have evidence of this to be an actual fact. I am actually a mermaid. Not long after I had my third daughter a strange lump began to grow in my neck, at first I thought I had swollen glands, but after a few months they didn’t go down, so I went to the doctor. The doctor sent me away with the same idea, but a couple of weeks later the lump got MUCH BIGGER. I wore a scarf all the time, people stared at me in the street, and in the Post Office the lady behind the counter talked directly to the lump as if I had a second head! Nosey parkers I vaguely knew stopped me in the street with mock concern and demanded to know what was going on. Perhaps they had read ‘How to get a head in advertising’?

I went back to the doctor and found out that I had what is known as a Branchial cyst. This piece of information led to people trying to convince me that I had got the word wrong and that it must be Brachial, and to do with the arm, in which case I must have the entire diagnosis wrong. The internet made everyone a doctor. Anyhow the actual doctor told me that a Branchial cyst happens because when we are forming in the womb we grow structures in our necks that would become gills were we to be sea creatures. Sometimes this process is incomplete and the space where the gills would be remains. If this is going to become a problem it happens in infancy or in adolescence, not in your late thirties. So you see I am a scientific oddity, and a mermaid.

The cyst was removed as it was taking over my life, literally. And the gills didn’t work. Ridiculous, finally I had evidence that I was a mermaid and the gills didn’t even work. They would have been really useful in my current predicament.

What has this to do with dragons and the sky? Not a great deal. I suppose mermaids and dragons are somehow related in my mind, they both have tails and spend their entire lives trying not to be discovered by stupid humans, who spend their entire lives trying to find them or simply making up increasingly ridiculous stories about them to entertain themselves when they are lost at sea. Dragons and mermaids must have some sort of deeper meaning, like the deep sea, or being lost at sea. As if life wasn’t magical enough as it is.

Sometimes I sit and wonder how much water there is below me, exactly how deep this particular bit of ocean is, where the bottom is, and what is down there? My mind boggles, it feels a bit like wondering how big the Universe is, and I know with my logical mind that the Universe is of course much, much bigger than the ocean, but in my heart I am not so sure that I want to believe the scientists who love to quantify and separate everything. I think they are missing something, they are like mice, looking at the small details and failing, unable even, to see the whole. So busy, busy dissecting and inspecting, looking through microscopes to see the worlds beneath them because we are too small to see the worlds beneath us.




Dragon Cloud Photo by Lahiru Supunchandra on Unsplash.
Red Clouds photo by Diego PH on Unsplash



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