One of my many eccentricities is a penchant for collecting heart -shaped stones on the various beaches I am fortunate enough to have nearby.
The other day I saw the most beautiful Turneresque stone – all oranges, reds and yellows – shaped like a heart on Tramore Beach. I felt myself stooping to pick it up but something in the very depths of my being refused.
It felt like it was wrong to move this beauty from its natural habitat. I left it there in all its magnificence and codded myself that I could maybe collect it on the way back. As if one stone among thousands and thousands would be findable, especially as the tide was coming in and my line of walking would be changed.
I also wondered if someone else would have picked it up in the meanwhile and put it in a special place where heart stones can settle lovingly.
I still don’t know what stopped me from collecting this particular stone as I have never known such a feeling before.
I wonder where it is now and if it will by any chance turn up again. I don’t think I could ever pick it up at this stage as it feels like it was meant to be free to remain by and in the soulful sea.
A letter writer to the Irish Times that I heard about on radio the other day came up with the idea of setting ourselves the goal of doing 6 activities in our 6 weeks of Lockdown. Two that I remember are: renewing contact with 6 friends with whom one has lost touch and reading 6 books.
I have been mulling over this and here’s my list:
#Write 6 thank you letters to 6 people who have been really kind to me during my life.
#Try out 6 new vegetarian/vegan recipes
#Plant up 6 pots with shade loving flowers/shrubs to brighten a dark, dank, dreary spot at the side of the house.
#Leave out 6 painted stones with inspirational quotes along my walking routes within the 5km limit
#Read 6 books that I have put aside and never opened
A couple of teachers that I had over the years up to school-leaving age have left a very positive imprint on my heart and mind.
One was a guy who always seemed to look for ways to make us think and not just focus on sticking rigidly to the syllabus.
One day, he arrived in with a list of sayings and distributed one to each of us. I got: ‘Success breeds success.’ I can vividly remember fumbling around trying to explain what I thought it meant but knew I wasn’t being very coherent. He encouraged me to think through what it might mean.
All these years on, it has stayed with me and it springs to mind in relation to everything from the way seeding in tennis is a prime example as is managing to build confidence from attaining what may seem like a tiny goal to others – walking 2km consistently and getting the confidence to push on to participate in a 10km or 20km walk.
There was a scheme in our school where kids in their final year were paired with a teacher to help out with the younger kids.
I was paired with my Success breeds Success teacher. One of the assignments he set me was to give a 20 minute talk to a group of 12 year olds about how technology was likely to impact on all our lives in 50 years time.
I didn’t have Google to help me but tried to let my imagination run wild. Computers were the size of houses back then and we were still in the era of telephone operators and black and white televisions. Robots were central to my talk. I think Dr. Who was my inspiration there. I certainly didn’t foresee the massive impact of the internet and virtual world.
But, almost every day, something from the life lessons taught by this teacher flash into my head.
I hope you were fortunate to have at least one teacher who left a lasting, positive impression on you?
My Garden of Eden, Mount Congreve, is closing on Sunday for the Winter. As regulars here on Social Bridge will know, the world famous garden, which is just a few miles out the road from Tramore, is a precious haven of mine.
I’m very fortunate to have been able to visit Mount Congreve every week throughout the season and savour its ever-changing colour and light.
Today was bliss but tinged with a sense of melancholy as I wandered through the walled garden and then the glorious woodlands. Much has happened in the period since the Gardens opened back in March and I’ve done a lot of contemplating, celebrating and pure ‘being’ in this place that never, ever fails to bring colour, calm and awe to my mind and heart.
Here’s a glimpse of what drew my eyes out there this morning on one of those ‘pet’ days that you always hope for as September draws to a close in Ireland:
I banjaxed my back on Friday and am way out of my comfort zone, to say the very least. There was a time when my back was bad, bad, bad for years on end and I became quite an expert on every conceivable kind of therapy from the very orthodox to the wildly alternative.
In the middle of that period my mother quipped that the pain was such a constant companion that I’d miss it when it was gone. Of course, she knew that once it had gone that I would very quickly forget those nerve jangling efforts of trying to turn in bed and the wobbly walks measured in half paces with breath held braced for the next muscle spasm.
Of course, what I miss in the throes of this latest ‘episode’ is having Father arriving up to the house with ‘meals on wheels,’ carefully wrapped in Mother’s love and emphasis on eye appeal.
‘Eye appeal’ generally meant a sprig of fresh parsely or maybe an edible nasturtium.
One of the most important things that I learned back then about pain was the importance of leaning into it rather than fighting against it and one way that I tried to make friends with it was through colour.
I think I must have had a premonition about the back caving in on Thursday last when I was out in Mount Congreve because I got to wondering about ‘blues’ and low mood.
Anyway, here’s the colour of my soft-tissued pain as I’m perceiving it now:
I revel in colour and allowed myself to think about black when I was walking along this path in Mount Congreve the other day.
I have an intense fear of the pitch blackness since I was about five. It happened in an episode of boldness when my brother and I were messing around in the bank office where our father was manager. We had been warned that we were never, ever to go into the office but, of course, that made it all the more tempting. It was a Sunday and Dad had been doing a bit of extra work. He had slipped upstairs for a few minutes so we sneaked in and were playing hide and seek in all the little nooks and crannies that were part of bank offices back then.
The safe where books, not money, were kept was slightly open and I thought it would be a great idea to hide in there. Big bro spotted me going in and thought it would be even better fun to turn the wheel that locked the big steel door of the the safe. I heard the click and found myself in the blackest place you could ever imagine. There wasn’t any light whatsoever and I started to pound on the door and scream at big bro to let me out. The door was so thick I couldn’t even hear him outside.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Dad came to the rescue. Normally he would have been absolutely furious with us for being in the office but when he saw the state I was in he took me in his arms and knew in his heart that I had learned a lesson that I wasn’t likely to ever forget.
Over the years, I’ve given black a lot of thought. It’s a colour I quite like to wear; I love black and white photographs; I adore the blackness of Puppy Stan but I still can’t bear complete blackness and have realised that it is something that is seldom found, a bit like complete silence.
Believe it or not, I even got the heebie-jeebies one day when I tried using a black page for this blog. I had thought it would be exciting to write on black but just froze. One of these days I’m going to give it another try because I want to see where it would bring me.
How are you about black or is there some other colour that messes your head up?
I got to spend most of today out along the coast and it was bliss. There was a definite touch of Winter setting in but there was great colour, clarity and a sense of Co. Waterford being at one with itself.
Copper turned to blue, blue as I stood on the Bonmahon Beach, looking back towards the old mining works up on the cliffs at Tankardstown.
And I couldn’t resist plunging into the waves at Garrarus Beach just before sunset. The sea is holding her heat well and the waves were all playful and fluffy:
As the sun set, I was catapulted away by W.B. Yeats:
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.