Blackthorn, a dark tree with a creamy blossom

In it's winter guise it is dark and foreboding and has a deep and bitter fruit but look at it's spring buds and flowers! A delicate, sweet and creamy blossom, the first wild flowers now to be seen on every hedge and ditch.

It's very possible that no one ever notices the magic of the Blackthorn's productions, winter or summer. That doesn't stop the year in, year out high drama of it. The Blackthorn doesn't look for any feedback!

It just keeps on doing what it does, and goes on being what it is, a Blackthorn tree.


Green mist rising: the conclusion

I am now going to stop being a small island in the Atlantic with a spooky green mist rising! It's the end of my week curating the @ireland account and time for the next person to begin tomorrow.

It's been fantastic. From the first daunting morning, trying "not to let the school down and make a holy show of yerself"! To the surprising amount of love out there for Ireland; the emotion, the longing.  Made me realise that there is still a lot of pressure on us Irish people to do ourselves proud, and I felt it.

The chats, connections and friendly voices from around the world. All the images I am left with in my head; bears in Canada who rob the bird food, a high rise home in Korea where an Irish man enjoys the evening skies as I do, the sheep in Kilkenny going into the barn at night. The support across the world between curators also coming to grips with the task. The warmest and kindest exchanges as if I was in the middle of New Years Eve party where everyone was just in a good old mood. It started out last Monday being so intimidating, now here I am on a Sunday addicted!!

The connection people felt with the images of Ireland which I have been posting for the last year. Simple everyday stuff, the odd sunset, wildflowers, the little lake down at the end of the meadow where I live. That brought me a lot of joy because making these images and sharing them with you is a passion!

Thank you so much to WorldIrish for inviting me to curate the account and for clearly asking me to tweet how and what I usually do. That was brilliant. At times it felt like I should be smarter, or more political, or more angry about the awful news we were having last week. It was important to stick with what I really know and understand, the mystery and magic of the everyday small stuff, and to be honest I really had no choice but to be myself. There's just me, me and the patch I live in, that's about it.

I have learned so much. Maybe it will take a while to process. Why not have a go? I didn't get enough time to think about it when I was asked, just as well, it was hard work but it opened my eyes again to the sheer wonder of being connected with this little patch of earth where I live, Ireland...........

PS Would love to meet up with you on twitter @foxglovelane where there's less of the green mist and a bit more of a purple haze.......


Tweeting as Ireland: Day 5

Yesterday I took a walk, I did some gardening, I cleaned up the studio, and in between did some more tweeting.

In Ireland it was a very bad news day in every way. There were enough people tweeting, talking and writing about it all so I didn't but the catch phrase for the day became "on the day that's in it......"

I have become even more passionate about belonging to a global community of like minded souls who are good, who take care each other, who live their lives well. Ordinary, everyday people who get through the day without doing any harm.

This swan couple are living on the lake at the moment and seem to be starting to ignore my presence, trusting me a bit more each time, and everything is getting a bit greener including myself.

Follow @ireland and @foxglovelane


Tweeting as Ireland 4 : A Fancy Irish Frog

Yesterday was at a nicer pace and I managed my time better too. In the morning there was a lot of love coming at me and a lot of longing for Ireland.

I was posting photos of some of favourite swimming places and when I posted one of Brandon Creek in Kerry and it touched a nerve with the grandson of an Irish emigrant. He was called after St. Brendan the Navigator who left this very spot for America in the 6th century. Brendan had never even been to Ireland he said, but he was homesick for it.

This talk of home touched me in a way that took me by surprise. All people have a home in their heart which they pass down through generations. I don't think it's just a place, or a country. It's more a connection with family, land and memory. It just made my cry, and the hilarious thing is that I am at home!

In the afternoon I started to share photos of small creatures which I have photographed over the last year. A really clever and brilliant person www.irishstu.com sent me back my frog photo as a bit of a cad, from a common Irish Frog to a Fancy Irish Frog. Brilliant.

One thing I am learning is that it takes quite a bit of grit to stay on your own path when surrounded by a cacophony of other voices. There is such temptation to try to blend in. Then all I need to do is go down to the lake, breathe in the air and remember.......

You can follow @ireland or me @foxglovelane


Tweeting as Ireland : Day 3

Hectic is how I would describe yesterday. I usually think about my blog posts for a week, like to tweet in perfect grammar, and reply to every one. This proved challenging yesterday morning. I got locked out of twitter and strolled back over to @foxglovelane where I immediately felt at home and wanted to put my feet up and relax. The mind works strange tricks.

Luckily this beautiful creature turned up and started pecking at my window! There was a lot going on at the time in the virtual world, but out there as usual nature was continuing relentlessly as it always does, with no reference to anything I feel.

This was a male Pheasant. They are fairly common around here especially now in breeding season. He saw his reflection in the glass and I suspect he was challenging what he thought of as another bird. As always looking into the eyes of another species is a reminder to keep your feet on the ground and to care more about the world and a bit less about yourself.  An important interlude in my day and fantastic to get so very close. My idea of heaven in fact.

So yesterday, I had many mugs of tea, good, bad and indifferent, took a brisk walk to the top of the hill to capture the evening sky, a neighbouring farmer brought milk from the shop 5 miles away and a crazy pheasant winked at me. I learned the importance of staying grounded.

In between I imagined and visualised your faces, voices and places brought to me via twitter through @ireland by people all over the world. Thank you.


Tweeting as Ireland : Day 2

Those of you on twitter will know that your own stream is a cosy and familiar spot. Those friendly avatars and silly names become old buddies and pals over time. So yesterday when I woke up to the green haze of the Ireland stream and I didn't recognise anyone I was thrown!

It was kind of like moving house and trying to find your way around a new kitchen. Couldn't even find the kettle....that kind of thing. Aw well. In no time at all I was moving in my own furniture, photos, slow lane meanderings. Lots of the old faces I know dropped by for encouragement and so did new people who empathised and felt my pain. Thank you all so much.

@sweden had just started that morning too and we shared a moment of anxiety early in the day which I much appreciated. There was a glitch with the photo links on worldirish so I hope that will be sorted out this morning. Sorry to people who didn't manage to open them. Lots more today.

One highlight was when I posted a link to an article about my son who organised the St. Patrick's Day parade in Berlin. A journalist who had been there then tweeted an audio of him addressing the crowd. That was so nice.

The chat was lovely, people were so supportive.  Off again now for another day with Tulips and Rosemary flowers to sooth an addled brain, mine not yours!

Drop in on @ireland my own twitter account is @foxglovelane


Tweeting as Ireland- Day 1

These photographs show the boundaries between my patch and the rest of the world. To the north east a hill of heather and gorse, to the south a small lake surrounded by forest and to the west the farmlands of County Waterford and the Commeragh Mountains. In between lies the place where I feel safest in the world, a little corner of land and sky that is my home.

Nothing happens here really, just the ordinariness of everyday rural life. The sun rises and sets without fail each day. In the early morning the birds are busy and the blackbirds swoop elegantly across the fields. Each evening the rabbits come out for a dander and as the sun sets fires are lit and the curtains are drawn for the night.

In my mind's eye and beyond these boundaries lies the rest of Ireland. Then beyond the shores of this small island lies the rest of the world. It is not a strange or unknown world. We Irish have travelled and settled everywhere and my own family are carrying on that tradition.

While living on an island creates a strong attachment to the land anchor of home, the longing to breach the boundaries pulls in the opposite direction. Home and abroad. Here and there. Intimate yet expansive.

I have the best of both worlds with one foot in the wild meadows that I love and the other in the on line global community. This week and for one week only I will be curating the @Ireland account on twitter. This is a venture of WorldIrish a community web-site for people who love Ireland or who have Irish heritage in Ireland and other parts of the world. Each week a different person will tweet for @Ireland. Don't worry I am still me and I am also still @foxglovelane

My week begins today and I suddenly feel very small.


Reluctant to leave winter behind

I am finding it hard to let go of winter. Usually in dread of darkness, this year through observance and photography I have strangely, weirdly, fully, fallen in love with winter.

The sparse branches of the hedgerow willows and the brown bracken outside my window, have become a familiar backdrop to my daily life. I am unsettled by the blazing golden fuze bushes which are lighting up my work station now and startled by the lengthening day with emerging fresh greens everywhere.

Since the Winter Solstice the world has been turning back towards the sun and I need to let go now and let the light return to my life. They say it takes four seasons to grieve a loved one. Bare winter will always be the reminder of how much we have lost, but Spring, when we allow her in, is a reminder of the future....

Shadow and darkness are an integral another part of seeing through a lens and add depth to all our images.......


Humans are drawn to the dusk light

I walk, I snap, I share, I learn.

Then the next day I do it all again! This is the creative cycle.

Last year I set out to create 1,000 new images in my quest to reclaim a personal exploration and creative life. I ended up taking over 20,000 photographs in 10 months, mostly within a 5 minute radius of my backdoor. Who knew there was so much to see, explore and capture just under my nose?

I have noticed however that no matter how many photos I share, the greatest responses I get are from people who just love sunsets. Human attention is always drawn towards the changing dusk light. The uplifting glow of the sinking sun combined with the lengthening shadows and the fading birdsong, make it a magical event each time.

Every evening that I find myself photographing the western skies over County Waterford I wonder how it is possible ponder the same sky over and over again? But every evening it is unique and new! Nature creates change by the minute and I have become acutely aware of this. These photos were taken within the twenty minutes of that special twilight time, from just under a hedgerow.

By the way, you may have noticed that I am finding it harder and harder to keep up with responding to and following up on comments here. While I love and appreciate each and every one, I hope you will understand that I am becoming more focussed on making the images. The more work I do the more I can share and develop!  If you'd like more of a chat I am much better now on Facebook and on Twitter and I upload photos there too almost every day!

I am also with some difficulty trying to learn more about the technical side of photography, such a steep learning curve, so hopefully this year my work will improve. Again a big thank you for your support and encouragement. I continue to learn so much from you all.