Ages older and deeper

Every day it's the first thing I see from any window in the house. If I am having breakfast it catches my eye, twinkling in the morning light. Later I could be on the phone chatting and I am drawn suddenly to notice the lake darkening and soaking up every shard of light into it's depths. At night when I close the curtains on the day, it's moonlit shadows and reflections form an eery backdrop.

The lake has moods. It shudders and ripples or starts to solidify into a sheet of glass. The events that surround it can be both heavenly and bizarre. Baptisms, horses swimming with boys on their backs, herons swooping over and back, parties, picnics, scout camping trips, lovers trysts, forest fires.

On Autumn evenings like this one, the earth tilts and the setting sun magic descends. The lake and I commune with the sky. She is solid and still. All dressed up with absolutely no where to go. Dignified, ages older and deeper. Her dazzling beauty and golden highlights are on full display.

I am giddy and happy. Up on the roof, elbows resting on the edge, playing at being the flaxen haired lady of the lake. Sometimes I imagine my future old lady self, she is pushing the boat out, trailing her fingers in the icy water and soaking it all in for as long as she can.......

And by the way...........there's room on the boat for a few more giddy old lady pals.....

Also posted today on Vision and Verb where I will now be contributing on a regular basis. Check it out, there's a new post from a diverse group of women bloggers every day.



When the rain rolls in from the western Atlantic we can be enveloped for days. The greyness hangs over the whole island like a wet blanket. We struggle to communicate about anything but the weather.
Showers gather, deluges threaten, scattered downpours are aggravated by strong winds.

We laugh about towing the whole country a few degrees southward. We have the temperament of the Mediterranean countries but the weather of the Vikings. We like to think we are Cuba without the sun.

I try to remember the positives, the green it brings, the trees who thrive on it, the cosy pitter patter on the roof at night. But the worst effect has to be the absence of light. It can be scarce enough at the best of times but on these days I pine for it, scouring the sky for breaks of blue.

During a gap I head out for a short ramble. Everything is weighed down with watery raindrops. Full fat globules of liquid silver. One of the most precious commodities in the world. One of the scarcest human necessities in plentiful supply here, sparkling like garlands of jewels.

And I notice the smell of the land......soft, sweet and damp.


I was hoping for something big..........

OK I have to admit it.  I was out looking for something big and impressive. Too much drama in your life and losing the run of yourself will have that effect!

I was stalking the heron always liable to show up even if he is flying away from me, and I knew the swans were back on the lake for the winter. I was there, waiting, ready to shoot. Even sounds so wrong now! Ready to "shoot." Full of expectation and hoping for bigger, for better, for perfection!

I was rationalising and angsting, big time. Listening to bulldozers in the distance, fearing the changes that are taking place all around here as agriculture becomes the new boom business. Rehearsing some sad tale in my head about the decline of the wilderness and the end of civilization as we know it.

The next big thing never made an entrance. I was forced to stand there, to be there, to let the light find me. The reeds reflected patterns in the water, the fish surfaced and disappeared again. Thrushes flitted cleverly creating constant distractions as I missed each one!

Then I noticed the little guys! All the time they were there in the bushes and trees. Too small, too bland, too common.....I had spent a day trying to write something about "what I've learned from blogging." And here it was writ large.  That "trying" too hard doesn't work. That trusting the process is essential. That small stuff is good stuff if that's the story that is there to be told.

It's the only way that feels real to me anyway. A lesson in humility learned and yes I'm still holding out for the big guys too when they finally decide to show up!


I give them the moon

This is a guest post I wrote for Vision and verb shortly after the very sad murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne. By coincidence Tom Meagher, Jill's widower has this month become an advocate for the Irish White Ribbon Campaign. Tom has been writing about his experiences here on the White Ribbon Blog, it is both a chilling story and a powerful piece of writing. To support their work I am reposting this today. 

It's October and the evenings are drawing in. Like thousands of other Irish parents my sons are surfing under Australian blue skies, drinking coffee in the street cafes of Berlin or taking classes in a New York film school. Spreading their wings while I follow their adventures from my perch on the hill.

Tonight the random rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne, 12,000 miles from home weighs heavily on me. The fragility of life and the grief of others has stopped me in my tracks. My sorrow now is for her husband Tom, her father and mother, for the friends out there. How could any man be so isolated and cut-off from any sense of reality or care, to inflict such pain?

Most days in the grassy wetlands I head out alone with my camera to meet up with one of my best teachers and collaborators, Mother Nature. It's late now but still I pound up the hill towards the forest, muttering to myself about the world, about the fear. I don't pray but I carry all the young emigrants in my heart as I walk the land. I carry their questions and their anger.....

To the west the sun is setting and to the east the moon is rising. I am reminded of other nights when I travelled the world myself. When I slept under the stars in the Black Forest in Germany and a moon just like this one hung over it like a Max Ernst painting. When I wept with frustration at having no where to sleep in Paris until a kind Jesuit found me a room. When I travelled by subway in NY chewing gum as a strategy to look tough, the most innocent looking pale faced girl on that train. 


And here, with one foot in a rural haven and one foot in the global chaotic melting pot, with questions, confusion and anger whirring.......this moon soothes and distracts. Before long I am reaching for the camera,  besotted by the sky, engrossed in the tranquility.

As I walk home thinking about them all wherever they are tonight. I imagine them under this clear sky with the chubby clouds. And then I close my eyes and with all my heart I give them the moon............


A mysterious relationship

The camera lens enhances the ordinary and the everyday by capturing, focussing, and saturating each image. The shutter clunks, the motors whirr and the computer chip inside records every tiny detail of light and shadow. This daily photographic partnership between us, soothes, uplifts and excites my soul........

A close ally, this camera never interrupts a train of thought or a conversation inside my head, remaining the silent partner in every creative project. I am there to supply the intuition but the invention of the camera made the magic of photography.

And who knew that just when I thought I had seen enough for one day the camera would seek out a pearly snail shell attached with invisible glue to a dying skeletal petal? Something small, surprising and beautiful in this damp set of fields which couldn't possibly yield up yet another crop of images. Yet there it was, tiny, golden and completely perfect in my world.

A mysterious relationship exists between Mother Nature, the camera and me. Sometimes it works best to allow the pair of them to do the talking and just go along for the ride.......


Windswept, freckly and fairly wrinkly

While I am standing beneath this Sycamore, besotted with its golden glow, leaves are passing away in front of my eyes. A little death is taking place as each one turns, decays and falls. Autumn and it's peaceful slowing brings the inevitable truth to mind. 

The wrinkling up of my smily eyes like a crisping leaf, curling and fraying at the edge. The retreat to creative solitude as each hour of daylight becomes more precious. The overwhelming urge to dawdle and dander on my walks. While the Sycamore is going through a gradual decline with each season, I suppose in some ways so am I.

Without any sense of panic or great turbulence the natural world is going to sleep, is letting autumn happen. All the so called imperfections of these ageing leaves, dark spots, crow's feet, crumples, puckers, creases and fraying at the corners, once caught in the eye of my lens, are surprisingly beautiful!

I'm not there yet, still only dabbling, but when the time comes the best possible decline would have to be a similar windswept, freckly and fairly wrinkly one.  I doubt that this will never be written on the back of a jar of moisturiser............ 

This time last year I wrote a similar post called "To whom are we beautiful" inspired by the lines of David Ignatow


Who me?

With giddy excitement and a big beam I learn that I have become a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards 2012 Never before in the finals of anything I have mixed feelings! But hey I am rising to this unexpected challenge, crawling out of my safe little burrow and taking all my own advice about living life for the day! 

You can check out all the Finalists and the three entrepreneurial women Amanda, Beatrice and Lorna who organised the Awards, must have been so much work.....

There are fantastic Photography Bloggers in my category. Good luck to each one of you, I can see the work and the passion that has gone into your blogs and I am thrilled to be in such talented company. Congrats to all who were nominated and shortlisted, I am a fan of many of you, and none of ye are short on passion either:~)