Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around a lake

Some mysterious things go on in the world. Many that most of us don't expect, support or buy into. While we all have to mull over and face up to our fair share, it is often hard to find solutions to the myriad of problems that absorb us. Foxglove Lane is an oasis from that place ; no politics, no economics no pessimism, no solutions are on offer.

Wallace Stevens said "Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around a lake." Some days that's about the size of it and meeting a small frog along the way can really help.......


Mushrooms, ecology, death.

Out of the blue last week I got a tweet about a link to "mushroom/eco/death." The whole thing looked so weird that the thought it might be some kind of twitter virus actually crossed my mind.....

I had been perusing the mushroom world recently, as I know very little about them, and this seemed to be an uncanny coincidence. We are all so programmed to recoil, trained from childhood to fear their sometimes fatal impact. So naturally I assumed that the link about mushroom /eco/ death would be some other doomsday warning about eating the wrong mushroom, but strangely it turned out to be about the right mushroom eating us! 

It was a link to a wonderful short TED talk about ecological burials, about cultivating a chemically neutralising mushroom which will turn us and our mercury fillings into organic compost, about acceptance and responsibility even in death and about minimising our footprint on our fragile eco system.  Not to put to fine a point on it and without in anyway meaning to be disrespectful Jae Rhim Lee alerts us to the toxic nature of corpses, usually laden with chemical embalming fluids and then buried or burned thus adding to our pollution overload.

Just the way we recoil from mushrooms we also recoil from death and don't think about it until it is literally too late. But I had another reaction this time ...SIGN ME UP NOW! 

I hope this is not too gruesome for you to think about......  I even had a mushroom omelette for lunch, and it was no problem...... life goes on. While we are here, let's enjoy it, but when we die , let's do it with some humility, and some connection with the earth and future generations who can benefit from our thoughtfulness, as Jae Rhim Lee says, it's dust to dust anyway......

See the talk for yourself Jae Rhim Lee


It's the same sun, the same sky, and it's even the same me and you.

Everything about London and city life is a world away from my usual slow lane existence. I parted company with my camera (other bloggers/photographers will maybe understand) to spend proper quality time with other humans, and anyway I didn't want to carry it around. Travelling light, I thought.

London is wonderful. Full of cafes, art, trees, bridges, a great big river in the middle of it and skyscapes of magical towers and turrets. Wasn't long before the phone camera was produced and put into full use!!

Before I left home I had taken some Autumn sky shots. On the Thames I remembered our western view over towards the Commeragh Mountains. Same western sky, same sun, same me. Wherever we go I thought, and sometimes we travel a long way, this world is our home.

I thought about all of you who share your comments and thoughts. Those insights about the looming winter, changing seasons, and fading light, and also about your strategies to stay positive and close to the earth. It has been like a show of community strength in challenging times!

And speaking of travelling a long way, I am thinking of all of you Irish people around the world today, same sky, same sun, same you. We all belong here, wherever we are.


Hedgerows of silver and white as everything, including me goes to seed....

Strange days. Everything is changing. The hedgerows, only a few weeks ago full of inspiration and activity, are quieter. Some days I think nature will have little to offer an enthusiastic blogger with a camera, but luckily, so far, each time I find some treasure. Sadly today I came across a beautiful hare, now road kill, but completely perfect in every way. The lanes are sparse and brown, and the challenge of continuing the walks is greater.

My attention may well turn to more inward and interior observations. Like the one that the shortening days bring some gloominess to the view, like the one that many of us are struggling to find hope or to understand why, or like the one that the seasons are a powerful force that influence all of our moods and thoughts.

Next week I am hitting the big city of London! The balmy weather and the bright lights will probably turn all this "going to seed" talk upside down. I will miss the quiet silver hues and the golden western skies over the Comeragh Mountains each evening, but I won't miss the grey mist coming in from the Atlantic or the brown stalks, all that remains of the wildflowers that I love.

Packed noisy cafes with the strong smell of baking and coffee here I come! Art galleries, book shops and vintage markets are where you will find me but I will also sit on a bench and observe the wildlife of London in a small square in the sunshine......


Last chance to make sloe gin or vodka for winter cocktails

As the sloes are almost finished already I thought I would share my Sloe Gin recipe. Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn Tree and are prolific around here just now. Sloe Gin or Vodka makes a warming winter liquer, dark and sweet. You can drink it neat or you can mix it with other drinks and juices to create amazing cocktails.

The recipe is very simple, Gin/Vodka, sugar and sloes. So get a large bottle of gin and drink half of it. Fill back with sloes and 150 grams of sugar. Some people like to add almonds or even a cinnamon stick at this point. Turn the bottle every day for a week and every week until it is ready, the longer the better. It's a nice treat for the dark evenings up ahead.


A rare sighting of our only surviving newt species the Common Newt

The Common Newt (protected in Ireland and in Europe) is rarely seen. It's a small creature very like a lizard and lives partially in and around waterways. This little guy was the worse for wear having climbed up some tall grass and fallen into a rain barrel in the garden. We rescued him, rested him on the rock and as he recovered I took these photographs.  Soon enough he slithered away into the long grass again, almost immediately he was impossible to spot.

I know he's not the cuddliest of creatures, in fact he has a pre-historic air about him, but luckily I am getting over that kind of squeemishness and enjoying more and more wildlife in my world. Does that include the large spider living beside my central heating switch? Late last night there he was right on it, just when I went to turn it on! Next thing another large one walks casually down the hall. What can I do? I feel I no longer can discriminate against the less attractive ones in our midst. If that was the case where would any of us be in a beauty contest?

However, I draw the line for the moment at featuring large spiders here! OK, it just might be that I would find it too hard to look down the macro lens and right into his eyes, but I hope both you and I will get there some day.....


Even Jung recommended talking to trees

Sometimes a place has a soulful feeling about it. Off behind our house are three deserted farms which overlap in a series of fallow fields and gorse covered hillocks. Each of them has a farmyard haggard overgrowing with an ever increasing wildness. There are corners which have been long forgotten and hold memories and echoes of the past. 

In the corner of a small grove this Ash tree commands a striking pose, back to a low wall and branches outstretched. Even in the sparsest winter this grove is a haven of lush wooded green. Mosses and ivy cover every inch of it.

If a tree could tell you something of it's individuality, this one speaks of confidence and ease. So perfect is it's setting that entering in here you immediately feel the carefulness that is required to delicately negotiate around the space, in case you might disturb things. Tiny pink wood anemones cover the earth and twisted matted ivy stems braid around the trees and their branches. It is almost like entering a green room more like a library or a small chapel than a forest.

The tree presides over the little grove like a sentry on duty or a mother embracing all protectively. Where most trees reach upwards, here is one that reaches outwards.

I go here each season and remember as Jung once said, “You will find yourself again only in the simple and forgotten things, why not go into the forest.....sometimes a tree tells you more than you read in books” There is no real separation between us and this tree. At least that's what my own instinct tells me when I am in it's shadow. Do you know what I mean?