The courage to be happy

Grief is all pervasive but it can lack drama. It is more likely to manifest these days as a cotton wool brain rather than the well of tears. Work proves to be a challenge and my thinking is fuzzy and lists remain uncompleted.

Leaving the burrow is like being cast out into a cold winter world and sometimes my tired old bones want to cosy up there for just a few more hours, or even days......

For the past 9 out of 10 days I have been on the road and while the distraction and connections were welcome, at times the grief sat like a heavy weight on my shoulders. As the days went on I decided to pack the camera with the brief case every morning and hoped for better.

The last few days I got lucky and was able to steal moments and photograph places I have been observing and admiring for years. I have been enjoying the unique bronchial shape of each tree, the changing light on the newly ploughed fields, the ice patches on higher ground and as I jumped in and out of the car, my energy started to shift too.

Somewhere on the road between Tullow and Carlow I came across this drift of snowdrops, "harbinger of Spring" on a ditch opposite a small cottage. These bravest, smallest flowers reminded me of a quote I carry in my head, the one that reminds me to have "the courage to be happy."


What a wonderful bird the frog are.......

What a wonderful bird the frog are--
When he sit, he stand almost.
When he hop, he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly.
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got--almost.


I used to read this to my sons. It's from the Rattle Bag edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney. Some bed time story reading can really put you asleep, but I never tired of reading this one! 

By the way the above Common Frog is living in a small pot hole in my back yard!


Feasting on swan feathers

Just as I was considering the soul of the world I came across three small feathers down beside the lake.

The soul I was thinking, is probably not something that is inside of us at all, but maybe is something that is outside of us and connected to the world. We feel the soul whenever we are at home in the world and it is harder to feel when we we are cut off from it.

This is what I was mulling over as I tramped down through the boggy lower field. Soul stuff.

I was photographing the fallen reeds in the water when I spotted the first feather partly submerged in the lake. Delicate, white, and soft, these feathers contrasted starkly with the wintery dead stalks. They are probably from the swan pair now living here for the winter.

With little else stirring, myself and the camera feasted on the feathers.

The soul of the world is complex and detailed. Observing it's small treasures always seems to soothe my whirring mind.


Bare winter branches reveal the structure behind it all

Nature has exposed the skeletal structure behind it all right now. The bare bones, the strong shapes and the early signs of new life. Buds are being revealed, lichens and mosses are getting some extra light and the last remaining berries are still a feast for the wild things.

This exposure can seem vulnerable and delicate, yet so strong. The lacy branches against the occasional bright skies of January stopped me in my tracks today. Like long bony fingers they pointed me towards a growing strength across the land. Winter is the consolidation of energy....... waiting, resting, containing, preserving, until the right moment.

Winter has seeped into my own bones in a way I hadn't anticipated. I have slowed, paused, reflected and slept. The burrow is very cosy, but the hint of new life might rouse me sooner rather than later, the trick is recognising the right moment!


Sparks fly!

Seemed like a good idea at the time. The Christmas tree was tinder dry but I never imagined that the meadow would be so dry too. Who would expect that in the middle of an Irish winter?

It happened fast. While I was trying to figure out some fancy camera settings, the blaze took off. The drama of a raging fire not too far from the house, obliterates all other thoughts. Betwixt and between taking the photos and stamping out the increasing flames I started to shout my head off .......but didn't put the camera down! Hey that's fire for you, it demands your full attention, but on the other hand the creative process is also a kind of flame that luckily is also hard to subdue.

I am not a fire woman at all! More of a water soul. So to be this close to such a powerful and overwhelming furnace of a fire, with glowing sparks flying in all directions, took my breath away.

I needed to put out the burning meadow fire alright but that little flame of creativity, the one that has persisted in spite of damp drizzly conditions at times, that one I decided, I would nurture and protect and encourage to spread. Mmmm .......hopefully it will spread like wildfire and even more sparks will fly!


On a grey January day dreaming of an old Irish poem

One of the only poems I can recite is this one. It's not so much that it was loved by me, it's more that it was repeated endlessly in primary school. On re-reading it as an adult I finally understood. Now I love it and indeed "hear it in the deep heart's core," especially on a grey January day. What a treat to have beautiful words in your head!

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
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.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats


Living with soul

January 2012 early Wild Gorse flower

I cannot answer any of the big "why" questions, like for example "Why are we here?" I haven't a clue. From now on I am going to stop asking that. I am going to be more concerned with how we are here. How.

That leads me to another of those big questions. Is there such as thing as living with soul? What is soul? Is it everything that is the opposite of soul-less-ness? When we say something is soulless it is lacking in meaning, empty, dark, dead, crass, spiritless, without character. So then is everything with soul colourful, spirited, meaningful, alive, deep, individual, and full of character?

If so then soulfulness would not be too hard to achieve. It wouldn't require any fancy education or the latest new gadgets. It is more likely to be found in rich detail, natural beauty, growing stuff, tea and toast, woolly socks, button collections, the ordinary and the everyday of a good life.

We bare our souls, keep body and soul together, dance to soul music, are soul mates.

I want to live with soul.