Early morning in my precious Newtown Wood, just outside Tramore, brings signs of changing seasons. Just as people don’t move through life in a uniform way, trees and flowers have their own ways of adapting and moving on.
The beech tree is steadfastly holding on to her autumnal leaves until the new growth is ready for show:
For now, the sun can see through the bare tree and cast pensive shadows where soon the there will be a carpet of bluebells:
Looking skyward, it’s clear that a canopy of green leaves will soon draw the blinds over the blue sky:
Down near the little stream, the celandines gleam with pride, promise and gentle purpose as they take us by the hand to celebrate diversity, humility and here-and-nowness.
I arrived home after watching the sunset to hear about the argy-bargy between Pope Francis and Donald Trump.
The odd thing is I never thought that either of these men would take up any of my thinking time but they have and they are.
For my non-Irish readers, I should probably draw your attention to the fact that Donald Trump has a toe in Ireland as he bought an Irish golf course and hotel in Co. Clare before he declared his candidacy for the Presidential Election. He got a great welcome here by our Government with red carpets, dancing girls … and now this is part of the dirt that is being flung around in OUR General Election Campaign which is really heating up and due to take place on February 26th.
Pope Francis’ attack on Donald Trump hit me between the two eyes as he drew heavily on the importance of building bridges not walls. And, as you know, I’m all about building bridges! I think this is the first time I’ve cheered a Pope in about fifty years.
I’m beginning to wonder where this is all going to end. Maybe, I’m going to turn into one of those Irish people who gives God credit for sunshine saying: “Lovely day, thank God, ” to everyone I meet. (Normally this drives me bananas as no one ever says: “Rotten day, blast God,” or even ” Terrible day, damn the Divil.” )
Anyway, it’s been a smashing day here in Tramore and I’ve felt totally and utterly spoiled.
There are all sorts of bridges that make me sigh and I want to thank David Millington-Croft from the magnificent There is No Cavalry for mentioning the Bridge of Sighs in a comment at the start of this Festival of Bridges.
I’ve spent most of the day thinking about bridges that make me sigh and also pondering on the word sigh. I’m taking it in a positive sense here ~ to mean bridges in a range of contexts that have touched my soul. Here are my top five out of possible thousands!
#1 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco ~ a bridge that won my heart in 1983 and is still carved there, especially when I see the sun rising.
#2 Claude Monet’s painting of The Bridge at Argenteuil. I associate this very much with my late father and I was fortunate enough to see it in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in November 2010, just eight weeks after father’s death.
3# Senator George Mitchell who played such a key role in negotiating the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Having lived through the years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland which claimed the lives of over 3,000 people, I am eternally grateful that those terrible, terrible years are behind us.
#4 Jack B. Yeats’ painting ‘The Liffey Swim.’ This painting has huge significance for me as it hangs in The National Gallery of Ireland, a place which I visited very, very regularly throughout the 15+ years I lived in Dublin. When I was leaving Dublin I bought a copy of the painting which lives in my study here in Tramore. The bridge in the painting is Butt Bridge which I crossed regularly, especially during my junior tennis days when I was catching the train to and from Drogheda which was home then.
# ‘The Bridge Builder’ by Will Allen Drumgoole. This poem reminds me of the many, many older people who have built bridges for me over the years. I would like to think that I thanked them sufficiently for their kindness but I know full well that I didn’t.
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
Will Allen Drumgoole
The Festival of Bridges continues until October 31 and I would love to hear about bridges that make YOU sigh. Please email me with your words, images, music at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s heartfelt contribution to The Festival of Bridges comes from Joanne, who writes most eloquently about the way in which bridges have been a significant thread weaving through her life, which has strong Irish-American connections. She has just bought a new apartment and her email starts with the role of a bridge in that regard:
What sold me on the place I’ve bought is the view. I’ll have this unencumbered view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge from my living room and bedroom windows of my new apartment, beginning next week. And the Verrazano, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, will be celebrating its 50th birthday next month.
Funny, over the years, I’ve collected some artwork, mostly landscapes, and without deliberately setting out to do so, I’ve ended up with about six or seven paintings and prints of bridges, some famous and some not.
I have a print that my parents bought when they first married here in New York City in 1934. It shows a stone bridge over a stream and a tiny cottage beyond. My mother told me they bought it because it reminded them of Ireland and they were both so homesick for Co. Kerry.
When I was very small, I used to gaze at this print and make up stories for my dolls about it – what was on the other side of the bridge, who we might meet, who lived in the cottage, where the rowboat would take us, etc.
A subconscious theme that has followed me throughout my life: What will happen if I cross that bridge?
Many thanks, Joanne, for a beautiful bridge-related insight into past and present and may you have happy, happy days in your new abode.
The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st and I would be delighted if you would send YOUR contribution from wherever you are in the world. What’s your take on ‘bridges’ and which ones are significant in your life?
Simply email me with words, images, music ….. to email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
I would like to thank everyone for their birthday wishes and for your interest in my Festival of Bridges which is running from today until October 31.
Sandy, from the great blog Hoarder Comes Clean, sent two stunning photographs to set us on our way.
Here’s what she says about this one:
This the old railroad bridge is just west of my hometown in northwest Missouri. The Missouri bridge is one we used to play on as kids, and walk out on the rafters. The trains don’t go through anymore, so the old railroad tracks have been taken up and it’s just a walking path where they were. This is the only bridge left.
And here’s her second amazing contribution from a trip to Alaska a few years back.
I’m absolutely enthralled by these photographs and love the idea that they’ve come from places and in weather so different to Tramore here in the Sunny South-East of Ireland.
I am really looking forward to being able to bring contributions about bridges, loosely defined ~ in words, art, photography, music, or a combination of same ~ to the world through this Festival of Bridges over the coming weeks. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the bridges that matter to you!
Bridges are more than special to me ~ why else would I call this blog Social Bridge?
Today I would like to bring you a piece of Irish music An Droichead which is Irish for The Bridge, played by Liam O’Flynn and Mark Knopfler. I find it hauntingly beautiful and it gets me thinking of all the bridges, physical and social, that mean so much to me.
I’d love to hear about the bridges of your life, or indeed, the writings or music that you associate with them.
Yesterday’s post on Solitude left a lot unsaid as it related to a moment in which I felt like an intruder. But I just want to tell you than when I turned round, these were the colourful eyes that my gaze.
Today, I am collaborating with one of my very favourite Irish photographers, Mick, at http://meticulousmick.wordpress.com/. I asked him for a photograph which would inspire me and he sent this one of a bridge in Scotland. I was intrigued to read that it is to be found at Rest and Be Thankful on the Loch Lomond/Inverary Road. I hope you like the inspiration which it brought.
Rest and be Thankful
There are moments when we need to step out of the humdrum and noisiness of that thing called ‘everyday life’ and simply Rest and be Thankful.
In the stillness, we can feel the presence of those who touch, and have touched, our hearts with hands of inspiration and light when even the smallest hillocks loomed as treacherous mountains. Have we taken the time to thank those who have made our lives navigable; those who have built solid bridges and walked with us through pain and darkness?
Pure rest brings new perspectives on the flow of life; it cleanses and soothes the aching pains of angst, grief and despair. Our eyes are opened to what is most important to every single human being: hope and love; love and hope …..