This journey out to Clare one sunny weekday afternoon was glorious. I ended up at one of the many places in Ireland known as Diarmuid & Gráinne’s bed. Legend says that she was meant to marry the powerful (and old) Fionn mac Cumhaill, but instead she fell for one of his warriors, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. They go on the run, pursued by Mac Cumhaill and his troops, sleeping somewhere new every night. I like the versions that say Gráinne loved Diarmuid so much that she wouldn’t rest; she would stay awake all night to watch over him.
It’s a beautiful story. But I won’t spoil the ending.
This place was so beautiful, so edge-of-the-earth, that I don’t blame them for picking it to spend the night! Imagine.
I was so engrossed in taking photos that I didn’t notice my road trip buddy taking photos of ME. I am usually alone when I go out on these photo trips, so it’s rare for me to have photos of myself, which is a shame as the locations are always so beautiful.
The pot-holes out there were WAY deeper than they look! Thankfully my little Micra made it through, but there was mud up to the windows by the time I got through the worst ones.
There is probably a tactic of how to drive safely on such treacherous roads. I, however, just cranked up the Taraf de Haidouks album and blasted through the bumps. It was the perfect soundtrack. 😂
A great day for gathering wild garlic – it’s EVERYWHERE!! – and a bus-load of nettles which are now wrapped and hanging up to dry. I also got a lovely bunch of lilacs from a neighbour’s tree that are filling the kitchen with their sweet scent.
But the real action was earlier in the garden when I made some of my herbs look bigger and mightier than you’ve ever seen them!
*…cue dramatic shot of my fennel plant*
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – According to Culpepper’s Herbal:
‘Description. It has large, thick, white roots, which run deep into the ground, much dividing, beset with small fibres. It has large winged leaves, of a dark green divided into many segments, of long, slender, very fine, capilaceous parts. The stalk grows to four feet in height, much divided, and full of whitish pith. The flowers are found at the top in flat umbels, of small yellow five leaved flowers, each of which is succeeded by a couple of roundish, somewhat flat, striated brown seed. The whole plant has a very strong, but not unpleasant smell.
Place. It is generally planted in gardens, to be near at hand, but it grows wild in several parts, towards the sea-coast, and in the northern countries.
Time. It flowers in June and July.
Government and virtues. One good old fashion is not yet left off, viz . to boil fennel with fish; for it consumes that phlegmatic humour which fish most plentifully afford and annoy the body with, though few that use it know wherefore they do it; I suppose the reason of its benefit this way is, because it is an herb of Mercury, and under Virgo, and therefore bears antipathy to Pisces. Fennel is good to break wind, to provoke urine, and ease the pains of the stone, and helps to break it. The leaves or seed, boiled in barley-water and drank, are good for nurses, to increase their milk, and make it more wholesome for the child. The leaves, or rather the seeds, boiled in water, stays the hiccough, and takes away the loathings which oftentimes happen to the stomachs of sick and feverish persons, and allays the heat thereof. The seed boiled in wine and drank, is good for those that are bit with serpents, or have eat poisonous herbs, or mushrooms. The seed, and the roots much more, help to open obstructions of the liver, spleen, and gall, and thereby help the painful and windy swellings of the spleen, and the yellow jaundice; as also the gout and cramps. The seed is of good use in medicines, to help shortness of breath and wheezing, by stopping of the lungs. It assists also to bring down the courses, and to cleanse the parts after delivery. The roots are of most use in physic drinks and broths, that are taken to cleanse the blood, to open obstructions of the liver, to provoke urine, and amend the ill colour in the face after sickness, and to cause a good habit through the body. Both leaves, seeds, and roots thereof, are much used in drink or broth, to make people lean that are too fat. The distilled water of the whole herb, or the condensate juice dissolved, but especially the natural juice, that in some counties issues out of its own accord, dropped into the eyes cleans them from mists and films that hinder the sight. The sweet fennel is much weaker in physical uses than the common fennel. The wild fennel is stronger and hotter than the tame, and therefore most powerful against the stone, but not so effectual to encrease milk, because of its dryness.’
This place has become a real sanctuary. When I am working on something in the garden, I don’t go more than 5 minutes without stopping to think how damn lucky I am to live here. The garden walls are high, no one can see in, and I can hear all of the birdsong, people passing by, the wind in the trees…there is a real sense of connection despite being below street-level and completely hidden away.
Even on days when I am in a bad mood, or my back hurts, I never regret getting out into the garden and getting my hands and feet into the muck. I don’t even mind the biting red ants anymore! It’s the same feeling I get when I get into the sea in the afternoon; I just don’t feel right, or connected, until I do it. I don’t overthink it, or else I won’t do it. I just go towards it consistently because I know my body and mind respond well to it.
But it’s not all about me. 🙂 In the meantime, there has been progress!! A lot of clearing away the big and bulky plants so that the smaller ones – and wildflowers!! – can get more sunshine and nutrients from the soil. I am a rookie, and I don’t read very much on how to do any of this, so it is likely I am making some big mistakes (like accidentally ‘weeding’ out all of the sprouting carrot tops I had forgotten I’d planted…whoops!). I have also planted a few seeds into pots and gotten a plant that is NOT the same as the seed. Magic.??
But, it is looking good! Lush!
I want to thank this little guy. He’s the one I have spent the most time with since this whole lockdown affair began and he’s seen me in all of my moods. He never complains, and he’s still there.
He’s my rock!! And he’s only wee. Even the garlic is taller than him now! X
Cities typically kill my shutter-finger inspiration entirely.
The sight of concrete and – sorry to say – humans and cars, ruining my shot….makes me grumpy.
I am missing the green parts of the country IMMENSELY right now. To say I have itchy feet would be an understatement.
But I’m doing my best!
The Claddagh was very easy on me (and my eye) this morning.
Lá bealtaine sona daoibh!
The sweet spot, for me, is remaining – as much as possible – in a constant state of creative flow and inspiration.
By not necessarily having a ‘goal’, or putting pressure on myself to produce something that will impress others, I can turn to whichever direction my impulses and moods turn me. Nothing is forced. And I feel free.
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
However, tonight I am quite chuffed with how my Bealtaine (May Day) headdress has turned out! In fact, I am going to show it off! 🙂 Although I may not be able to stray far from my home this May 1, or meet with others, I will certainly enjoy wearing this atop my head!
Although I am looking forward to more daytime shots soon, this night-time shooting is like seeing a different world. Everything is so still. You feel like the city is your secret.
One more shot of the Supermoon.
The only photo that turned out ‘ok’ of the supermoon.
My hands are apparently steadier than I realised! X
A few photos from a clandestine midnight wander around town last week under the Supermoon.
Although I don’t want to see Galway in this state for much longer (or EVER again), it was pretty magical.
I always thought it was the people who made this place so electric, but I may stand corrected. That night I had the city to myself; there wasn’t a soul around. And it was so silent and still that it felt like humans had never been there at all.
You could still feel the ‘woowoo’ in the air. It turns out the city itself is just plain magical, with or without Us. Maybe we just liven it up a bit. X
This morning I was listening to this talk with Liz Gilbert. A few takeaways:
1) If you are suffering from empathetic overload, try replacing your empathy with compassion. That way, you are not *taking on* someone else’s suffering, but instead remaining strong in yourself so that you are able to help, and, of course, look after yourself. Pace yourselves; ‘this is a marathon, not a sprint’.
2) Replace the words ‘quarantine’ or ‘self-isolation’ or ‘lockdown’ with ‘In Retreat’.
…also so many other points that lit up my brain. I would highly recommend a listen.