Month: November 2017

Sands of Time

The sun enticed me to the beach today.

A privilege of country living is being able to capture moments like this. The rippling of the waves brings peace.

I thought of Keats’ wonderful lines:

Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, 
    Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea; 
        Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude, 
    Or fed too much with cloying melody— 
        Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood, 
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired! 

Nature has a powerful way of allowing you to connect with yourself and what is really going on inside.

Now I didn’t come across any sea nymphs or anything but I thought of my sister who left us four years ago on this day. The sea still comes in and out and always will long after we are gone. It leaves marks on the sand that are gone the next time the tide comes in. I suppose this is what they mean by the sands of time. Always shifting but never disappearing. When someone you love is taken away, other things you love still remain such as the sea, sun and fresh air.

I thought of Neptune the God of the Sea – even he cannot hold the tide back. Last night I went to see the Justice League, a movie featuring Superheroes where there was an awesome pale blue eyed Neptune, complete with Trident. He managed to hold back a few floods in order to ‘save the world’ but even he was pushed back eventually.

I have a metaphor for my efforts to change my career. Its from Castaway with Tom Hanks. There is a coral reef about 200 metres out from the beach that he has to get past before he can paddle out into the wide ocean. The waves break on it continually and he has wounded himself on the sharp coral many times. He spends his days devising methods to get himself past the reef, designing rafts and failing time and again. Eventually he uses an old piece of corrugated plastic that washed up on the beach and puts a makeshift sail on it. The wind in the sail gives him enough momentum to get beyond the reef, allowing him to journey back to civilisation.

The wind in my sails has been my friends offering me a country retreat while I paddle past the rocks of convention so I can start forging a new way of life.

It has been exciting so far but I hope I don’t have to get picked up by a liner in order to make it wherever I am going. I am going ahead with a mind ‘open to everything and attached to nothing’ – thank you Wayne Dyer.

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Not  exactly a Coral Reef but what sun on a Winter’s day.

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Patterns left from the ebb and flow of the sea.

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Bright winter sunshine on the wet sand.

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The Slimy Molluscs

Sludge

Molluscs are the second largest Phylum in the Animal Kingdom. How do I know that?

Because I am studying Organic Horticulture and our last assignment was studying Slugs and Snails.slug sketch

 

Why do I need to know about Slugs & Snails?

So that I realise that they live in the dark and wet parts of the world, the shady cracks under stones and leaves, basically, in the Sludge.

The hint is in the name. Onomatopoeia and assonance never worked so well. Words that begin with Sl and even better, SLu, bring to mind oozing wetness such as we have never felt since we were children experimenting in the garden, before our parents spotted us. The joy of mud cakes as a child. We need to learn textures when we are children because we sure as H–ll are not going to get down and dirty when we are grown up.

So why does a horticulturalist need to know where a slug thrives? Apologies to all vegan out there, but it is so we can exterminate them. In a situation where we cannot use pesticides or anything that will harm other animals or birds, we have to use methods such as drowning them in beer, squishing them or poisoning them with iron phosphate.

Knowing that they will multiply and come forth when it rains gives us the tipoff to bring out our arsenal of weaponry to the garden at the appropriate moment. It is the cabbages or them and quite often it is them who survive leaving the poor brassica looking like a skeleton.

We also learn that their sense of smell is keen but their eyes, which are at the top of two revolving tentacles sticking up off their head, is poor. These tentacles are also used to smell. They like the smell of beer. How does a beer loving, cabbage eating, revolving tentacled animal end up living in sludge? Our is not to understand the ways of nature. Ours is to know that some slugs produce a calcium enriched mucus slime that forms a shell. they are called snails or escargots, the French delicacy. This occurs mostly in the city where slugs can eat more eggshells for calcium.

So even a Gollum like creature can perform minor miracles in its nether kingdom of sludge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sparkling Dungarven

On the plus side of life in the country is the bright lights and on the negative side is the intense dark. How is this contradiction possible?

My local town Dungarven has the most remarkable display of Christmas lights. No matter what direction you approach it from – an illuminated Angel strung across the main street bugling you into the town or and enormous Lighted Santa Bear across from the Supervalu.IMG_4217

The park has an illuminated swan and swishes of lights enticillant (I think is how the French describe the Eiffel tower when it twinkiles up and down) the trees under which a group of adults are led through a routine of pressups and warmups.(war mups?)

IMG_4219But the dark? Oh yes. It comes at about 5pm these days which is why the lights work. It is an intense dark, not the dirty light we get in Dublin.

On clear nights we are compensated by the spectacular stars. On ordinary nights with the cloud cover I am convinced there is a glow in the sky over Dungarven from the lights that was not there before.

Driving in the dark is not my idea of fun.

Why I picked up a total stranger last night holding a red can for petrol I do not know. But I did and brought him to the nearest petrol station which was 5 km away. He was a simple type honest looking man with a stubbled chin and big eyes. He left his car with the hazards on at the side of the road. When we got back to it I noticed a passenger. ‘ thats my wife’ he told me. ‘ she is very nervous’.

I opened the boot so he could get out the red can of petrol and I wondered where they were going where they lived and a thousand other questions. They faded into the intense darkness, my curiosity unsated ( if thats a word). He did seem to know a lot about cars.

Another six weeks until we reach the shortest day and then another six weeks until its as long as it is today. But can Spring be far behind?

Babe the pig in the Country

What a looker! our thoughts about pigs are so mistaken. Not the mucky snorty things we believe since childhood, but fast, intelligent animals, full of curiosity. They are responsive, especially if they think you have food, but affectionate and develop attachments.

This is one of the many side benefits of living in the country. One of the many discoveries I have made. No one could have described to me exactly what they are like. You just have to get up close and personal to see what I mean.

I am glad to have had this encounter in my life. Pigs are kind of important in our lives, if only as a nasty name to call people. The use of their name to make people feel bad about themselves is so wrong. Pigs are abused for their little tails, their snouts and their roundy shape. Yet they have been used by British soldiers as a name for German soldiers during the World Wars. Woodlice are called “Fatpigs” which is mean to pigs as they are so far above them on the food chain. In fact, I would say pigs snuffle them out of the ground when they are doing their food searching.

This snuffling is how truffles are found. Pigs are highly valued for this ability in France.  Truffles are a fungus that grow in forests, under trees and pigs have a knack of finding them.

So enjoy any chance you get to meet a pig. Its well worth it.

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You lookin’ for me?