Soaking in Nature

The last few days have been all about being with nature for me and I have spent hours just watching birds, waves, flowers, trees …

The Nesting Swans

I’m told by a watching farmer that the cygnets are due this coming Thursday so it’s all very exciting.

The experience of being out and about in lovely natural places made me think very much of the following poem:

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

-Wendell Berry-

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free

The Heron

Brendan Kennelly

Tomorrow (April 17) marks the 85th birthday of treasured Irish poet, Brendan Kennelly, and I can’t let the occasion go by without remembering his wonderful smile as we passed each other on a regular basis during my years at Trinity College, Dublin. He was always a joy to encounter and his poetry is always a joy to read:

Begin

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

— From The Essential Brendan Kennelly

Time in Co. Waterford

I’ve been making the very most of the lifting of our 5km travel restriction to travel within one’s county.

This morning I headed out to the Waterford Greenway which has been developed from an old railway line and to date it spans over 40 km.

The part I like most runs along the River Suir near Waterford City.

River Suir from the Greenway

Time has been, and continues to be, almost timeless with the pandemic but there is an added dimension to not being sure what era one is in when out on the Greenway. This is because there are so many remants of the old railway line and one can almost hear it echoing along on certain stretches.

The Old Stone Bridge

Today, I was very taken with the way old parts of track have become embedded in the ditch, real reminders of olden days:

The Ravages of Time

All the while, there were signs of Spring everywhere, compared to when I was last out in late December. The gorse with its coconut scent was divine:

Gorse

And, it was a day when it seemed like serious runners and cyclists were in full flow keeping a close eye on their times:

Running for Time

I guess love is pretty timeless too, and I was very pleased to see the knitted heart that clearly has a whole story attached to it still holding firm:

All Heart

Magic in Co. Waterford

Today was the big day in Ireland when the 5km restriction lifted to allow travel within our county.

I went to my old haunt, The Anne Valley, on the Copper Coast. It was divine and I spent a good deal of time watching the precious swans out there. The main pair have built their nest so all seems well with their world.

I had just read a little piece about magic that is on the trail:

Anne Valley

As I was standing very still admiring one of the swans, a woman pushing a child’s buggy passed by and told me that someone wanted to give me a present. An adorable little girl had a dandelion in her outstretched hand and I was quite overwhelmed at her generosity and lovely smile. I thanked her profusely and smiled at the mother before returning to the swan. The mother called out that someone else had a present for me and a tiny tot was behind me with another dandelion.

The wild flowers or weeds to some might as well have been big bouquets they were such a surprise.

Perfect Gift

I certainly plan on keeping a close eye on the swan family which has been such a part of my life for years now:

On Guard

Hopefully, I will get to meet my new found magical friends again who brought such unexpected human joy:

Wildflower Children

Contagious Laughter

I was struggling with a duvet cover earlier and ended up flat out in a tangle of quilt laughing like a maniac.

I’ve never mastered the art of putting on duvet covers and don’t expect I ever will because I get the giggles at the first hurdle.

Laughing this morning brought me back to a late afternoon around 2008 when my father was in a high dependency cardiac unit in hospital. It was one of those places you never want to have anything to do with because of all the tension and high-tech beeps and wires as well as the sense of possible ending.

Getting into the unit as a visitor was a bit of a business and I was extremely fearful of how Dad would be. I sat by his bed as he dozed and was mightily relieved when he woke and gave me one of his big smiles.

I had been reading one of his books of humour that went everywhere with him and he woke because I was chuckling over a piece about doing battle with duvet covers. He wanted to know what was so funny and I started reading it to him in a loud whisper but soon got a fit of the giggles and next thing he was nearly falling out of the bed laughing as well.

We were being closely observed by a nurse at a desk who finally came over to us and said we seemed to be enjoying ourselves. Neither of us could speak which got her laughing too.

Dad, with his charm and sweet tooth, gathered himself and said he’d love a cup of tea and a biscuit and sure maybe I could share in his happiness.

The nurse re-appeared like magic with a tray of tea and chocolate biscuits which we devoured.

He was let home the following day and duvets and duvet covers have never failed to bring anything but joy since that crazy day.

Highs and Lows

It’s been a rollercoastery weekend so far and it’s only Saturday night.

Today is the 23rd anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement which promised, and, brought so much peace in Northern Ireland. However, there has been a good bit of rioting up North in recent days and it feels very fragile all over again. Brexit hasn’t helped amongst many other factors.

Meanwhile, my heart goes out to Queen Elizabeth on the death of her husband of 70 years. It certainly can’t be easy for her and I hope she can cope somehow. Ireland is entirely separate from the United Kingdom but we are neighbours.

Ireland lost one of her greatest song writers, Shay Healy, to Parkinson’s Disease today and that feels like we’ve lost a true talent and a very loved man.

Meanwhile, we are celebrating the victory of jockey, Rachel Blackmore, in the Aintree Grand National. She is the first woman ever to win it and the trainer of her horse, Henry de Bromhead, lives just outside Tramore so it was a day for mad cheering on that front.

So, I say ‘goodnight,’ with mixed emotions but with soothing Tramore Bay whispering just down the road.

Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

Red Doors

At the Nire Valley, Co. Waterford

Red doors have a way of luring me in like no others.

I always screech to a halt when I see one just to admire it and the more vibrant and out of the way the better.

This one is a bit like a door in my life as it is in a lovely mountainous area called the Nire Valley at the edge of Co. Waterford and reminds me of when we lived in Clonmel in Co. Tipperary back in the late 70s to mid-80s. The Nire was a go to place to bathe in a river and climb mountains leading to lovely lakes.

I still go there betimes especially when the gorse is in full bloom and am looking forward to heading there when the 5km restrictions lift on April 12. So many old haunts to catch up on in this county of mine!

Covid and Comfort Zones

I haven’t heard a mention of that terrible term ‘comfort zone,’ since Covid got a grip on the world.

I had serious objections to what I saw as a very ‘first world’ idea that we all needed to push out of our so-called comfort zones in order to realise our potential or find ourselves. It seemed to overlook the immense hardship that many people had to endure long before Covid struck: ill-health, poverty, abuse, grief, financial problems, natural disasters …..

Suddenly Covid came and it’s like it pushed everyone out of their normal round so fussing about comfort zones became redundant.

The thing is that when we finally get Covid under control, the old issues will still be there but I hope there will be far more understanding by the haves about the extent to which the have-nots often struggle desperately and that even having time to be bothered about comfort zones is a sign of privilege, albeit a very fragile privilege.