Standing by Ballyscanlon Lake the other evening in that moment between sunset and last light, the only sounds I could hear were my heart beating and lines of poetry.
W.B Yeats’, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, and John Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci were playing like a duet, bringing me more and more into that other world of hopes and dreams. The voice was my mother’s as she read these poems to me as a child and as she chimed in with me when I read them to her during her last months in 2009.
Poetry has a way of leaning into silence and drawing out the very essence of what it is to be alive.
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
( Diane Ackerman)
I love this quote and it made me think of the road out near Ballyscanlon Lake here in Co. Waterford. You could be driving along this lovely winding road and not think to look over the high hedge. Lying beneath is one of the most delightful lakes I know:
We do not remember days, we remember moments. (Cesare Pavese)
This photograph of Ballyscanlon Lake has lived on my computer for almost five years now and I remember the moment I took it as if it were now.
It was back in late September 2010, just a few weeks after my father died and I followed the sunset out to Ballyscanlon Lake. I remember nothing of the day involved but will never forget the peace and solitude that I experienced watching the sun setting on that still evening when the air was full of fragrance after rain.
Ballyscanlon was a favourite haunt of Dad’s and I had such a strong sense that night of his presence there with me.
It never ceases to amaze me how particular photographs can bridge time and peel back layer after layer of thought, emotion and experience.
Do YOU have special photographs that are like bridges to precious moments?
November seems to be a month for deep reflection. It feels like nature strips us bare and dims the light so that we are forced look to look inwards.
At the same time, however, Mother Nature, opens up new spaces and patterns as the leafless trees allow us to see the skies ~ especially the starry skies on clear frosty nights.
Bareness and space feel unfamiliar after the lush growth of Spring and Summer and the colourful tapestries of Autumn.
But this is time in which we should seize the apparent quietness and work away within ~just as nature is working beneath the soil ensuring that the spring colour of snowdrops and crocuses will re-emerge with vibrant hope and promise for the onward journey.
That post I wrote on International Happiness Day has kept my spirits raised thanks to the great response that it got and the sense that it resonated with people around the globe.
I want to thank writer Frances Macaulay Forde, who lives in Australia and blogs on the lovely site Exploring Possibilities, for following up on her comment and sending me this happy, happy photo of herself and her niece among daffodils which was taken in Ireland in 2003.
Thanks also to writer Roy McCarthy, who lives in Jersey and blogs at Back on the Rock, for jogging me into ‘count your blessings’ mode through his comments. He succeeded in catapulting me back to absolute basics and, even though I thought I didn’t take much for granted, I’ve realised that I absolutely do and this is something I plan on changing.
Here’s a little example of how Roy sent me into reflective mode early yesterday morning!
It is quite astonishing where counting blessings takes one!
Thanksgiving has been on my mind all day and I would like to wish all my American friends and followers every happiness from Ireland.
I wanted to find a poem from Ireland to send your way and a book of W.B. Yeats’ poetry selected by Seamus Heaney fell into my gaze and this is the poem that most wanted to travel:
The Lake Isle Of Innisfree
I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Soladach mar carraig is the Irish for Solid as a Rock and, for me, the Irish goes a long way towards conveying the the huge significance that rocks hold in my life and in Ireland generally.
I just have to think for a second and the names of towns, villages and townlands whose names are derived from the word carraig coming pouring forth: Carrick-on-Suir, Carigavantry, Carrickmines, Carrickmacross, Carrickfergus …..
The term Soladach mar carraig always gets me thinking of people as well as places. There are some people that seem to epitomise dependability and who you just know will never, ever let you down, no matter what. I touched base last week with one of my ‘rocks’ who I hadn’t seen for a while and was met with that reassuring, warm feeling that these people engender and usually in a most casual and humble sort of way. No, it’s not charisma; it’s more about heart, wisdom and empathy.
And, of course, there are rocks, of the stone variety, that have special meaning too. Here’s a few of mine! I’d love to hear about yours?
This was the morning that I was planning to do all sorts of pressing things but instead I succumbed to the temptation to go with a small boy and two dogs to Ballyscanlon Woods near Tramore, Co. Waterford in search of wild animals. No phone, no camera, just us in our wellies with a bottle of pure apple juice for when we got back to the car.
It was a a journey into the territory of Tarzan and was it Jane? Briars, gorse, rocky ledges, stone walls that looked like they were built 500 years ago; paths that have to have been the paths of foxes and badgers. Tall rushes shielding Ballyscanlon Lake from its nakedness.
No one but us, not one other person. No doubt they were attending to very important matters.
As I gather myself to deal with my pressing matters, I know that this morning is one I will never forget. Skimming stones on the lake; standing so, so still just watching a happy robin perched on a delicate fern; collecting the brittle sticks of winter for the fire; all the chatter about where the badgers and foxes must play at night; dogs ploughing through the undergrowth; the serenity of the lake with just the faintest ripples.
Should all this have been foregone to attend to ‘stuff’ I would never remember doing and which I can get done now if I get cracking?