Among the many pleasures of driving to Kilfarrasy Beach, which is about 5 miles from Tramore, is a field which is the grazing place of some beautiful horses. When others are down at the beach at sunset, I often find myself stopping to watch the horses in silhouette.
Yesterday, I simply had to stop when I saw this magnificent creature looking so peaceful:
So many thoughts came flooding into my mind as I stood at the gate and watched him but none more than a saying that my late mother used to quote when she thought that any of us were over-doing things:
“Remember the horses in the French Revolution. They had to work for ten days without a rest and they all dropped dead.”
She always highlighted the power of rest and saw it as being essential to being able to function to the best of one’s ability. Thus, she had no qualms about having a rest in bed every afternoon for an hour or so. She’d read her book, maybe have a little snooze and then get up ready to take on the world. She had a peace about her and wasn’t a person who rushed around. She was just as busy as anyone else but always looked like she had all the time in the world. I think she took a certain pleasure in slowing the pace down when people were racing around like as if they were on a frantic life-saving mission and being ‘busy bees, ‘ as she would call them.
As life moves on, I’m coming to see that she was right about the importance of rest and I think she’d be smiling to hear me, of all people, quoting this poem that echoes from my childhood:
Down By the Salley Gardens
Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.
In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.
It was one of those evenings that oozed August and the glory of Co. Waterford. I was driving out along the road towards Annestown when the sun glinting on baled hay made me do an about turn and step into the open field.
Gazing seaward across the textured gold, I thought I heard a horse’s whinny and there in the field behind was a chestnut mare with her young foal staying very close to her side:
It’s a busy enough road ~ this road along the Copper Coast. On August evenings there’s always lots of cars with surf boards and kayaks tied to the roof racks and tractors and trailers making the most of every last sunbeam:
Just across the road from the hay field is the shell of an old stone cottage. It has seen many an August evening and stands solidly adding to the sense of place and Co. Waterford history.
What was a quick walk at sundown yesterday after a long day at the computer turned into a feast of soothing light out by Carrigavantry Lake, which is just a couple of miles from Tramore.
It brought thoughts of lines from W.B. Yeats’ wonderful Lake Isle of Innisfree:
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.
Carrigavantry is a place that holds all sorts of memories for son, Harry, and me and we often go there when we crave tranquillity. Yesterday, though, was different as it was an ordinary day for both of us ~ that is, if any day can ever be called ‘ordinary.’
We didn’t go there for any emotional reasons or with any inner longings but it was like as if Carrigavantry hadn’t been told that and was determined to envelope us in magical light.
The green of Spring seemed tinged with Autumnal gold as we caught our first view of the nestling blue lake:
The rusty old bath that serves as a water trough fitted in perfectly with the golden hues. There was a softness in the air that made the ordinary exude extraordinariness:
The lake itself was high and the dying sun melted into the trees that frame it:
As we left for home, a well-coated grey horse gazed a pensive farewell:
It’s Mother’s Day here in Ireland and Puppy Stan woke me at an unearthly hour ~ possibly to wish me Happy Mother’s Day ~ but he brought me off for a frosty jaunt that was filled with thoughts of my mother.
This is my seventh Mother’s Day since she died in May 2009. A grown-up daughter whose mother is rather unwell at the moment asked me recently: Do you miss your mother? I was a little taken aback by her directness and found myself hesitating for a few seconds.
I answered as honestly as I possibly could and said: Yes, I do but not half as much as I expected I would because it’s like she’s with me all the time. I wish someone had told me it would/could be like this when I was in a total state in the last years of her life. I’m glad she didn’t battle on as her quality of life was going to be more and more diminished and this way I feel that she’s at peace and also that I have her love, wisdom and sense of fun beating away within me.
This morning was one of those mornings when Mother was right with me as Stan and I headed off just to ‘be with her.’
She was passionate about nature and it was like nature herself was beaming for her too. Ponies and horses were a fundamental part of her growing up and this pair looked surreal as the sun was rising over the frosty fields:
The sea was soft and gentle ~ just like Mother’s touch:
On the path down to her beloved Annestown, the grass that we so often sat on having picnics after swims was glittering in the frost:
There was no possibility of resisting the chance to leave her a little message on the sand:
Out along the Copper Coast, sheep and lambs adorned a few fields close to the road. A ewe and her lamb came close to me and I was stunned to see that she was No. 29 ~ Mother’s special number always as her birthday was on the 29th.
Mother always loved to wander alone with nature, knowing that she could always come back to people who loved her.
As I look at this photograph that Dad took of her, I feel like I could call and she would turn around smiling and hold out her hand for me to come along with her:
Horses are a fundamental part of Ireland and Irishness. We stand tall on the world stage when it comes to horse-breeding, horse-racing, show-jumping and so many great names and places comes to mind when horses are mentioned in the Irish context. How about Arkle, Redrum, Dawn Run, Moscow Flyer, Nijinsky, Shergar, Australia, Vincent O’ Brien, Tom Dreaper, Aidan O’ Brien, Jim Bolger, Capt. Michael Tubridy, Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh, Coolmore Stud, The Curragh, Punchestown, Fairyhouse, Pat Taaffe, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, The Royal Dublin Horse Show, Laytown Races … just for starters?
Horses have always been part of my landscape. I loved hearing my father telling me about his younger brother, Michael, who was a world class show jumper and nothing soothed me more at bedtime than Mother telling me about her happy childhood days on a farm with her beloved pony, Jock. I must have read every single book that was ever written about young girls and their ponies and was fortunate to be brought to places like the Dublin Horse Show and race meetings all round the country.
I have what I consider to be my very own ‘horse show’ here in Tramore every day when I bring the dogs out along Cliff Road to Newtown Wood. There is a field, with a spectacular view of Tramore Bay, which is the grazing place of the friendliest horses I know. These are horses that trot gently over to the gate to be patted. I could spend hours there running my fingers through their manes and gazing into their big brown eyes.
I guess most Irish people have a special field such as this in which noble, nuzzling friends reside and ones that evoke thoughts of echoing hooves and contented whinnying.