I travel roads and discover new places. Deep in the heart of new countries. Deep in the heart of me. Mostly I go lightly hardly noticing a load. Then suddenly one day I feel the weight of my own heart. How can something that is so seemingly light within you become so heavy in an instant? I suppose our hearts weren't meant to be forgotten and occasionally we are to be reminded that they need to be carried. Like the lake that carries the lone tree and the tracks that carry the train.
A train runs west to east
Sun streams through a window, through her
Pooling dappling on a table laden to nourish and care
Outside a river flows forever through the city
Inside two lives, tributaries
Till this point separate
A train runs east to west
Strangers no more but still not there
Cold night becomes warm
Two souls together, hopeful but scared
Night becomes day
What is it for?
A train leaves the station
Brings one back home
A bicycle carries the other, hearts forlorn
On a beach the tide is turning
Where earlier two people shared a day
Now washed ashore like sand
In a mound of shimmering moments.
Wild surf, grykes, clints, cliffs and water water everywhere.
A storm that raged all night and rattled the windows of my humble accommodation. A dawn stole out into the light quietly so as not to wake the sleeping drunken New Year revelers. A car window wiper that suddenly stopped working but fortunately on the passenger side so I could keep on going in the driving rain. It was a perfect day to go underground. Into a cave kept secret for 30 years by the local man who found it. 30 years hiding out in his own big cave. Bear skeletons preserved in the cold dark tomb. From a time when bears lived in Ireland. Hearing myself wish 'if only we could get them back'. Hunted to extinction and extinction is forever. I go out the 'In' door of the shop in the spa town to retrieve another bad cup of coffee from a machine dispenser. In Ireland they mastered Guinness. There is no perfection in coffee here. Tombs dating from 3600 BC built by pagans, my ancestors, dotted the landscape like ghost estates in other parts of Ireland. I took off on my mountain bike in search of one I thought I'd seen from afar. Found only cow pats and more clints and grykes instead. It must have been my imagination or something else.
Sometimes we takes paths not knowing where they go or where they end but those are the ones that we are bound to take and should never be afraid of. They are usually the ones that unveil life's biggest adventures, lessons and surprises. I thought of this as I rambled with no map on an unknown path I found entering Burren National Park. The day was closing in and it had just stopped raining. The grey had disappeared and the sky began to get her colour back. Bright orange light of a quickly setting sun bathed everything around me in it's hues. I spun around wondering where to point my camera and realised suddenly I wasn't on my own anymore.
In the dying light of the last sunset of 2012 a year when everything seemed to change I found some majestic company to remind me of all that I have to be grateful for, for all the people, animals and earth I cherish and for all that is to come.
For the simple reason that it takes hours to get from A to B on winding roads I'd still be hard pressed to think I'm back on a tiny island on the wind ravaged fringes of western Europe. When compared with the vast distances of the American landscape that I've been used to for most of my adult life the travel times don't make sense. I look at a map. Perhaps I'm still moving at the speed of California and this place is putting the brakes on. A spec of land floating on the waters of the Atlantic in the 'upper left hand corner of Europe' as I heard someone recently speak of it. A few rain showers to welcome me back and wet my head. Ireland.
It was St Patrick's day the day after I arrived. Brass bands and tractors. Sashes and shamrock and Guinness. The colour green and redheads.
My quest to leave the concrete jungle and pandemonium of city life back in San Francisco has lead me quite happily for the time being seeking refuge and calmness in boggy, craggy wilderness, age old pilgrim paths and the isolation of islands off this island. I spend time reunited with family that has a burgeoning new generation. I listen to storytellers of the Connemara speak talking of plain clothed nuns and bottles of 'poitín'. I stand on mountain tops and I look out on the Atlantic. It's a long way from the Pacific and it has a wildness that the latter doesn't. Yet sometimes the similarities are undeniable. Perhaps it's only that these two places will always be linked in the comforting spaces of my imaginings and the friends and loved ones that draw me back to either side.
Age old controversies and injustices of church linger. It's institution still trying to yield influence while it's patriarchs cling stubbornly to power despite the sufferings of it's victims. Still a land with religion ingrained in it's rock and the cloud of it's past hovering.
At the tops of pilgrim paths I meet those kindred spirits who climb the mountain because it is there and quite simply part of who we are. Down country roads I speak with older generations who remember what it was like before the multinational came to town and poisoned the salmon runs.
On the bogs we sink knee deep in the land laid down like a deep carpet over eons. A land we've only been part of for the blink of an eye. So much history around me in the places that I ramble that I can't help feel intrinsically linked with it and all who have gone before. Perhaps that is to know you are home.
The rain which can be a daily occurrence has come hard until today when it turned into a softness so often heard described by the poets of this place. I watched it come across the mountain tops and allowed it fall gently on me. I sat looking over the wilds of Connemara. A land as majestic as it is mysterious. As healing as it is haunting. A stranger beside me, a common bond. For all the rain brings countless rainbows, more than I've seen for a long time.