The Shining Shore, a redemption story

Before we leave the house to go on our walk I put the new Mojo magazine in my bag. There’s a story in it I know I’ll want to read sometime today.

It feels ages since we’ve been to the Shining Shore. After several years where we took most Fridays off work and walked together, and last year when we wrote them all down, this year there hasn’t been so much walking together as Sarah’s been so busy with her funeral celebrant work. So I’ve mostly walked alone, mostly around Liverpool.

But today, a Monday, we neither have things we particularly need to do. And so we go to the Shining Shore. Our ‘home’ walk, our meditative walk, the walk we walk when we just need to walk.

When we arrive we're hungry, so we eat our lunch overlooking the Dee Estuary.

When we arrive we’re hungry, so we eat our lunch overlooking the Dee Estuary.

Nearby we pass this lovely bench. Two friends sharing the same time on Earth.

Nearby we pass this lovely bench. Two friends sharing the same time on Earth.

Then we start walking.

Then we start walking.

When we started doing this walk a few years ago we used to call this ‘the boring bit.’ A straight road from where we are, which used to be a railway station, up to a main road a mile or so away. Now we don’t find it boring at all.

It’s an ‘enclosure’ hedge, late eighteenth/early nineteenth century round here, when the common land was enclosed for the practical but also politically divisive reasons I’ve written about elsewhere.

So for walking purposes it’s reasonably old and therefore quite varied and interesting.

Hawthorn berries.

Hawthorn berries.

Popular with birds and squirrels?

Popular with birds and squirrels?

Sarah helpfully points out the blackberries on the brambles.

Sarah helpfully points out the blackberries on the brambles.

Rosehips.

Rosehips.

Elderberry.

Elderberry.

Sorbus.

Sorbus.

The ‘boring bit’ is bursting with fruit and colour.

And ends with this picture perfect church.

St Bartholomew's in Thurstaston.

St Bartholomew’s in Thurstaston.

In the churchyard there are male yew trees, full of pollen in springtime, at the front of the church, and this beautiful female yew tree round at the side of the grave-yard..

A female yew, full of berries.

A female yew, full of berries.

Yew trees are often found around church yards, often pre-dating the churches themselves, having been considered sacred in all sorts of cultures. They may live for over 2,000 years, some well over this, as in this example from fellow Liverpool walker, Gerry on ‘That’s How The Light Gets In.’

All parts of the yew are poisonous to us and other creatures, except the berries.

All parts of the yew are poisonous to us and other creatures, except the berries.

Which birds eat and help the spread of possible new yews.

Which birds eat and help the spread of possible new yews.

We walk on.

The lanes are full.

The lanes are full.

Of late summer growth.

Of late summer growth.

And the ground is baked harder than we've seen it for several years.

And the ground is baked harder than we’ve seen it for several years.

Sloe on the Blackthorn.

Sloe on the Blackthorn.

Honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle.

Down into the usually marshy Dungeon. Not so today.

Down into the usually marshy Dungeon. Not so today.

We sit.

We sit.

And look down at the Shining Shore.

And look down at the Shining Shore.

Walking on again we get closer.

Walking on again we get closer.

Across Heswall Fields

Across Heswall Fields, clover.

‘Some sort of thistley thing’ says Sarah. ‘Melancholy thistle maybe?’

Where we sit overlooking the Shining Shore.

Here we sit overlooking the Shining Shore.

Shining Shore26

We’ve often come to this precise spot and consider it ‘our’ place. A place to think, reflect and, sometimes, to read. Today Sarah sleeps and I read.

I read about Johnny Cash.

I read about Johnny Cash.

This month in Mojo there’s a beautiful article about him by Sylvie Simmons, with contributions from Rick Rubin, Tom Petty and others. It tells the story of the final decade of his life, a redemption story.

By the early 1990s, after huge success, some years where he’d sold more records than all the other artists on his label all put together, he’d been dropped by two major labels and seemed to be at the end of his time as a popular singer. Much though he still wanted to work.

To his surprise Rick Rubin came to see him, famous mainly as a producer of rap and heavy metal, to see if they might work together. Which they did. And between 1994 and his death in 2003 they made the late life recordings which, to me and many, define Johnny Cash.

Sylvie Simmons interviews him six weeks after his wife, June Carter, has died, and six weeks before he too will die. During his time working with Rick Rubin his health has broken down terribly, leaving him wracked with all kinds of pain. But the joy of making music again has lit up even these darkening years, and we get the impression of a life ending in fulfilment. That he enjoyed sales and awards and fame again seem almost incidental to the redemption he found in the making of this music.

Sarah wakes and we go down onto the Shore.

Where

Where the boulder clay cliffs have at last dried out and recovered their colour.

 

Though much altered and reduced by the washing-away rains of the last couple of years.

Though much altered and reduced by the washing-away rains of the last couple of years.

Our walk over we drive along to Parkgate to end our day out traditionally.

At our favourite ice-cream shop.

At our favourite ice-cream shop.

Shining Shore33‘The Long Walk’ by Sylvie Simmons, the story of the last years and late recordings of Johnny Cash is in the October 2013 edition of Mojo Music Magazine.

6 thoughts on “The Shining Shore, a redemption story

  1. Barry Ward

    Hi Ronnie,
    I also read the Johnny Cash articles in Mojo last week, and found the interviews extremely moving. I remember the first time I saw the video for ‘Hurt’….uncomfortable viewing in many ways, but it brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat. All of the ‘American Recordings’ are excellent, and proof that a veteran performer can still be valid even in today’s music scene, given the right songs and a sympathetic producer such as Rick Rubin. I don’t think Johnny Cash would have been too familiar to us back in the early sixties…..I think my first recollection of him was ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and his duet with Bob Dylan ‘Girl From the North Country’ on Nashville Skyline. But his back catalogue is superb. I never saw him perform live….did you ?
    Kind Regards, Barry.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      No, I never saw him Barry.

      My first memories are of hearing ‘I walk the line’ in the early 60s and him and June singing ‘Jackson’ which always seemed to be playing at Southport Funfair whenever we went. I remember being completely perplexed by ‘hotter than a pepper sprout.’ And then he’d be on those cheap LPs in Woolies, you know ‘Johnny Cash meets Marty Robbins’ sort of thing.

      So I definitely thought he was old hat and was very surprised when it turned out Bob Dylan looked up to him and then he did that San Quentin film. He went on surprising us all his life didn’t he?

      Reply
  2. Gerry

    A fine post. I always love the attention to the small details of the passing scene that you record in your photo narratives. This pushed several buttons for me – the walk down through the Dungeon, the Dee shore, Nicholls ice cream, and Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’. Thanks.

    Reply

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