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.
There is no doubt that places one knows and loves deeply have their own special way of conversing. Mount Congreve Gardens certainly fall into that category for me and I can best describe the feeling through this short poem:
I don’t take your words
Merely as words.
Far from it.
To what makes you talk –
Whatever that is –
And me listen.
Shinkichi Takahashi(Translated from the Japanese by Lucien Stryk and Takahashi Ikemoto)
At present, Mount Congreve is full of colour and the Astilibes, especially, are blooming in glory:
However, what spoke loudest to me when I was there were hearts of all descriptions. I think seeing a painting ( I don’t know by whom yet!) of the late Ambrose Congreve in the delightful little coffee shop set the tone for me.
Here was the man who had devoted so much love into developing Mount Congreve into the gardens that we enjoy today:
So, it was a walk defined by thoughts of heart, hearts, and heartfulness and one during which it seemed that Mount Congreve was speaking and listening by turn.
St. Valentine’s Day, for me, is all about hearts. This short poem by the great Langston Hughes is one that evokes thoughts of all the sensitivities that surround love, heartache, heartbreak and, of course, those heart-to-hearts that are the most fundamental connections in what can be a bruising world.