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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Western Ireland reflections

The complete selection of photos for this text are posted on Flickr. They are best viewed as a slide show.

Rain in the Burren

The past weekend was one of the soggiest I can remember. Memory is kind to us: there have probably been others equally wet, but I don't remember them, so I feel free to exclaim and find drama in the sheer dampness of it all.

It was the kind of wet that people who live near oceans are familiar with - they smell and feel it in the air and see it coming on the horizon long before we do, those of us who have become used to a drier world.

I was in Ireland, on the West Coast, in a curious landscape known as the Burren. Geologists and plant people love its limestone rock face and the botanical variety this breeds.

I lived there several years ago, alone in an old farmhouse on a hill, and I loved every minute of it. Eventually, like so many others there, I had to admit that I was running out of money and I ran off to find work. I vowed I would come back often but I did not.

Things seen on a walk

I loved walking along the empty roads that trilled and thrummed with life, if only your spirit was quiet enough to hear it and you were willing to bend down and look closely. This weekend I stayed quiet and warm with a wonderful old friend and we talked, as women who have known each other for years do. We cooked and we read books and we talked again. When the rain paused long enough for a camera to record images, I went out for a long walk. I saw a new calf. I saw two. I saw masses of daffodils, bright against the flat browns and grays of the Burren rocks. There were arches branches with new currant buds hanging from them and a lonely looking donkey standing in the middle of a field, silent, unmoved by my calls. Birds sang and darted about. Woods with rich mossy carpets teased and beckoned.

People and places seen on a drive

And then we visited old friends and familiar places, Clare who has a beautiful tearoom in Kinvara; an oyster bar at the weir, on the road to Galway, where I drank a glass of tap-pulled Guinness and had garlic grilled oysters, still in season. We wandered along the beach at Fenore and were entranced by migrating geese plucking at the sand, and we tried to see what they were eating. We were caught in a funeral traffic jam, with hundreds of people pushing their way on foot along a gale-tossed narrow road. We wondered where they would stand when they made it to the church, surely not large enough to hold them.

I'm not sure what I learned from all this except that it felt as if I was learning a great deal. I think it is this: life bubbles along, no matter what you do, what you contribute or what you don't. We visited Sadie, an Irish woman who runs the perfumery. She blends native plants and the knowledge of perfumes that she learned growing up near Grasse, in southern France.

I drank tea, and more tea, in mugs I love, made by my favorite potter, Nicholas Mosse. They were hot and milky, which is just the right thing in Ireland.

The old Irish love affair

We talked more, we worked, and in the end, I fell in love all over again with the Burren. There is nowhere quite like it.


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