Fling Care to the Devil …

January 29 means just one thing to me and that’s Mother’s birthday. She was born in 1921 and had a grand total of eighty eight birthdays.

She grew up on a farm in Co. Meath and adored nature more than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve been thinking about her a lot today and was thrilled to see that the first daffodil in my garden bloomed forth over night to join the snowdrops which were always such a symbol of her birthday.

I loved hearing stories about her youth and especially how she and her big brother spent endless hours out riding their ponies. They were inseparable and shared all sorts of passions, including poetry. She used to tell me of how when they were supposed to be going to sleep, they would be whispering the lines of poems to each other through their open bedroom doors. This is one of the verses that she would burst into from those days:

When sorrows come sobbing

To clutch at the breast,

When trouble comes robbing

The heart at its rest,

When cash columns addle

The brain as they may:

Swing into the saddle,

To horse and away!

To horse and away

To the heart of the fray!

Fling care to the Devil for one merry day!

( From Galloping Shoes: Verses by Will. H. Ogilvie, 1922)

It wasn’t until after she died that I found this photograph from her childhood. It was tiny and the fact that it was a picture of Mother and her brother on horseback with their parents in the frame only revealed itself when I managed to enlarge it.  I’d say Mother was about seven or eight when it was taken.

Happy Day in the 1920s!
Happy Day in the 1920s!

It’s a photograph that makes me smile and hope that if by some chance there is a heaven that Mother has been able to spend today running in the woods among the snowdrops and riding her beloved Jock with her big brother as they recite every line of poetry they ever knew.

 

Stepping Out with Hope

Snowdrops
Snowdrops

January is a month that is punctuated with sadness in my personal life and for that reason I seriously considered taking the month off from blogging ~ something I did last year.

I suspect that many personal bloggers feel like I do and don’t want to be either dumping their sadness on others, or blogging away pretending that everything is great ~ causing a major dose of cognitive dissonance.

The decision to blog on has proved to be a quite a revelation on a number of fronts. Firstly, the support from fellow bloggers when I have poured out my soul has been very comforting and healing and I thank you all very much for your comments.

Secondly, even though January is punctuated with sadnesses for me, the very act of blogging, especially around my words for the year, Stepping Out, has made me look at the present and also beyond just me.

Thus far, January has been fraught with many horrors on a global level and the events in Paris last week seem to call for a collective response, unity and connection of some sort.

And while all this has been unfolding, the snowdrops that grow under the Monkey Puzzle tree which looks in at me as I type here in the study in this little corner of Ireland, have been pushing their way up to the light in the bravest of brave ways.

They greeted me this morning, showing white. These are the flowers that my mother adored and which will forever be associated with her in my mind.

But they are also symbols of the bravery and hope that we all need as we navigate our way through January and beyond.

How I wish the world could/would stand arm in arm beneath the Monkey Puzzle and read William Wordsworth’s profound words in unison:

TO A SNOWDROP

Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

(William Wordsworth 1819)