13 April 2012


Happiness is... a pair of good boots. And warm woollen socks to go in them. (Who needs a tall ship and a star to steer her by?) Bogs and streams and lakesides can do their best, but good boots mean happy walking feet.

It was back to Donegal this weekend. The wintry chill stayed with us, but in the early mornings Iz and I ventured up the hill at the back of the house following the sheep tracks once we got onto the bog, pausing to admire the view (me) and taste unspeakable items (Iz) as we went along. Some of the mornings were very early starts and the hazel scrub was thrumming with birdsong, the distant roar of waves providing a constant bass note on one side of the hill, the gentle whump-whump of windmills providing a contrapuntal rhythm on the other.
To get mildly philosophical for a moment - walking the hills or the shore provides some space to think about things; some solace too. The death of loved ones throws into sharp relief one's own life. Middle age changes the focus anyway, but the death of those we love is a fairly merciless macro lens... Tramping on 600-million-year-old rocks is a salutary reminder of how short our own span of 55 or even 85 years is. Come to think of it, even our genus' span of about 2.5 million years or so seems unfeasibly short in a planetary history of about 4.5 billion years. Still though, we humans think in shorter timeframes and those whom we love are missed once their lives are lived. The hills and the bogs, the west coast, the Atlantic's roar, the constantly changing light, the tiny heath milkwort in the bog, the primroses in the ditches, the improbable azure of bluebells: all of these I've grown to love for their own sake but also because of who they remind me of: those who can't see them now, those who are remembered every day.
(Heath MilkwortPolygala serpyllifolia)
(Primrose, Primula vulgaris)
But Spring works its magic. Various belief systems put their own veneer onto a time of change and hope and we get passovers and resurrections and rituals of remembrance and celebration. But for me there's miracle enough in the emergence of new life, beauty enough in the form it takes, promise enough in its redemptive quality. And I'm lucky to have family and friends to celebrate it with. Thanks to all of you (you know who you are) for a lovely weekend. 

(Apple, Malus domestica, courtesy of SOT)
(Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus)
Back home midweek and things seemed mundane after the delights of hills and shore, but the local park provided subtle recompense in the form of small bunches of cowslips, taking over from the squills under the trees. An evening walk up to the allotment reassured us that the broad beans have survived our current wintry weather, the red onions are pushing up small spears, and I detected one or two tiny sprouts of the early potatoes. In the more clement clime of a bedroom windowsill, the corn has sprung up enthusiastically and the dahlia seedlings are coming along. I've transplanted the chilli seedlings and they'll have to fend for themselves now in pots in the glasshouse. Lovely busyness.

(Primula veris, Cowslip)


  1. Beautiful. Calming. Graineweile (alias AB)

  2. thanks AB/GrĂ¡ine! drop by any time.