The extreme weather has reminded us all, once more, that we live in uncertain times, times of change.
Change is all around us and those who have read comments on the previous blog, will know that my darling Missy has passed.
Despite whatever happens in our lives, we are best equipped to deal with all that life offers us, highs and lows!
In the wake of my grief, I headed up to Belfast with my daughter, who had made the journey down to Bealtaine, to help me put Missy to rest and then whisk me off!
It was just what I needed…a change of scenery…there will be time enough to mourn Missy, in little moments of quiet and reflection, later…
I will write more about Belfast…but, tonight, I am home and have lit the stove, walked Jack and fed Sammy-Bear, Che-Mousey and am ready for bed!
The wind and rain are battering the cottage, but the kettle boils on the stove…it’s good to be home!
These are due to be posted out at the end of the first week of November!
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The hedge being the perfect spot to hang a woolly blanket that would stretch asunder on a clothes line, or shrivel to dolly size in a drier…not that I have a drier or want to have a drier!
I agree with Dr Helen Caldicott, in drying clothes in the air and saving the planet from an excessive use of electricity! We need to lessen our daily impact on Mother earth in whatever way we can.
And it’s not just any woolly blanket…it has a pumpkin colour to it…yes, you’ve guessed right, for it belongs to the Pumpkin Mouser, AKA Missy!
Sad to add that she is a sick little peach and is not yet in recovery…we soldier on!
The trees are beginning to look more mature, since they’ve had a haircut…more a crowning really, as I’ve cut off the lowest branches and thinned out the crowns a little!
I love my trees!
I have a totally, crazy love for my trees…they are like children, for I talk to them and often times hear their response, in the most sublime ways.
It’s hard to explain, but, I imagine, that as you have chosen to follow this blog, then you understand perfectly!
Well, for most of the past fortnight, Missy has been quite unwell.
For some of the time it can be depressing, but then I am mindful of Che-Mousey and Sammy-Bear, as well as Jack, so have to force myself to be a pragmatist…something we women are really quite good at!
Juggling what has to be done, with spending time with Missy, really lightens the burden of a failing animal.
This is something that faces us all, whether it be a feline loved one, a canine loved one or a human loved one…the emotional response is a mighty one!
Juggling keeps our focus wide and not tunnelled.
The work in the gardens still has to be done…no real burden there as it is a delight to be outdoors!
And then there’s balancing and that means finding time to ensure love is spread out…not forgetting to include oneself.
We must always be kind to ourselves, as this helps us be kind to others!
Living each day, with joy, is the best way we have to channel kindness…well, have you ever seen a happy person be unkind?
In Celtic Ireland, Samhain marked the division of the year between the light (summer) and the dark (winter).
This time of tuning into the seasonal shift and preparing for the darkness of the winter months ahead, is important.
Even today, as I stacked these logs in the shelter of the veranda, I couldn’t help but think about Samhain and its meaning as a custom and special tradition.
The Hill of Tara was associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, even though it pre-dates the arrival of the Celts themselves!
The passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, constructed some 4,500 to 5,000 years ago, forms the entrance and is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain.
This was constructed even before the Celts arrived in Ireland!
And so, as the leaves fall and cover the earth, we reach Summers End and the beginning of the descent towards Midwinter.
Walking through the gardens at Bealtaine, takes me on a journey similar to the festival of Samhain, for it is all about ending and beginning…as the land pulls its duvet of leaves across its mantle of green, preparing for the beginning of Winter.
As Samhain marks the division point in the year between summer and winter, it is understood that any point, in the land where there is division or boundary, can be unsafe at Samhain…for it is there that the veil is at its thinnest!
Here at Bealtaine Cottage, the warmth of the sun continues to enchant!
Lots to do indoors and sorting through boxes of “things,” I was happy to find these lovely Yuletide cards.
Doesn’t she look gorgeous in the snow?
As I am receiving orders for the Bealtaine Cottage Christmas Book, I thought that I would add these lovely cards, as a way for me to send the book to someone you love, with a card inscribed with your message.
Missy continues to make a steady recovery, though has refined her taste-buds to a rather expensive prescription cat food, available only from Suzy the Vet, in Boyle.
When I refer to Missy as a “high maintenance gal!” …I’m not kidding!
Please ignore the clothes drying all over the stove today…it is rather wet outdoors!
Makes it really “Shabby Chic” style!
Jack loves travelling in the car and tries to snap every other vehicle he sees on the road!
Which is why he can only ever be walked on a lead!
Dodging in and out, to collect up the logs, my friend Marian delivered to me yesterday, I still managed to get wet!
I’m stacking them under the shelter of the veranda by the lodge.
As you can see, the potager beds continue in their abundance, producing herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Tree coppicing continues along the north bank, in front of the cottage, opening up the view just a little, as well as supplying the stove with kindling and small logs.
The fact is, no matter what the weather is like, it is simply wonderful to be outdoors in the gardens, working here and there!
Spiders are scurrying to and fro, spinning webs and catching food.
Berries hang in abundance on shrubs and trees.
Samhain waits in the wings.
The season makes progress towards “Summers’ End.”
However, Jack must be walked…Walking in the rain is therapeutic and quite humbling, reminding me of the blessings of warmth and comfort in the cottage and the fortune of friendship.
Last night the moon was full and powerfully bright, illuminating the landscape and the sheep, on the hill behind the cottage.
I am driven by passions and am of the Earth…at times a great strength and others my downfall, though little I care!
Scorpio women rarely cast a glance over their shoulder…
I am blessed in that I love the Earth and her seasons, an endless wardrobe of colours and textures and scents!
Have you noticed this?
There is an openness and awareness that is being driven, not by the corporate media, or government, but from a source that is difficult to articulate.
Fresh air and sunshine have an excellent cleansing effect on the materials.
Little cobwebs, insects and textures becomes a world all of its’ own.
The green of Autumn has a fairytale quality about it…it becomes a woodland green, reflected by silvery, autumnal sun light.
Walking around the land gives me an overall perspective of work to be carried out this coming winter.
This is an eight year old Birch tree, that was coppiced in year one, to produce multiple stems.
Trees are holding onto their leaves and flowers continue to bloom.
I was shopping in a supermarket in town the other day and noticed a sharp increase in the cost of food.
I really thought that the assistants had made genuine mistakes in the pricing tags on some of the shelves.
I knew this was coming and have in fact warned about it, but to see the jump in overall food costs is quite scary…it appears to be all of a sudden!
I am aware that the cost of seeds have doubled in some cases…that was the precursor to the food price jump!
Corn is up 92% and corn syrup is in a lot of foods!
The Times of India reports an overall food price rise of 157% between 2004 and 20013
Even the collection of this bundle of kindling saves vital cash…a bag of kindling at the shops costs on average 3-4 euros!
Just cleaning up the lane-way to the cottage will produce an excess of kindling and wood for the stove!
Last month The Daily Express UK newspaper reported that, “Rising food prices are causing stress for four in ten consumers, while a third say they are struggling to feed themselves or their family.”
According to “The Mirror,” newspaper, Sep., 2013:
“Food bills rising nearly FOUR times faster than wages, figures show.”
After all, in the depths of a cold, dark winter, what sustains us better than a warm home, hot, home-made soup and pots of preserves, chutney and pickles in the pantry.
Warmth and good food remains within our grasp if we plan for it now!
I have been advised by numerous recipients of my blog, that rather than sell Bealtaine I should consider the potential for crowd-funding, in order to raise the funds to bring the Permaculture Food Forest to fruition.
As you know I am familiar with all Earth based things, but I’m a bit stuck with this crowd-funding idea.
If any of you know about this proposal and what it entails, I would very much appreciate if you could help with some more information, as I’m a bit stuck.
Do you think crowd-funding would work?
Do you think I would get to realise my dream ( our dream, yes that’s you too) of planting 9,000 trees?
This morning was clear and beautiful.
But also, this morning, I was faced with taking Missy into the Vet…she has not been well and hasn’t eaten for three days.
Coming back home, a journey of about eight miles, I stopped several times to take photos…it is really such a beautiful day here in the west of Ireland!
The day continues fine, so the journey will not be too stressful.
I remain on an emotional tightrope and I’m not looking down!
At 5am the sky was a black velvet sack of diamonds.
The moon had set and the sky was illuminated by stars…endless stars!
The Earth continues to turn.
Red berries and silver light, weather changing frame by frame and night skies opening up to endless stars…country living, or maybe just observing.
For as I type, a fierce storm moves across the tree tops, sweeping leaves before it like a Samhain broom!
Yet in the stillness of the sheltered gardens of Bealtaine, Perscaria blooms stand tall and erect, like soldiers guarding Summer…but not for long!
(Persicaria amplexicaulis is a species of flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to the Himalayas.)
Che-Mousey-Bear chases around the gardens, delighting in Autumn and curiously keeping watch as I take photographs this morning.
Willow arches have thickened this year…something I will plant many more of, as the Autumn progresses and leaves fall away, to reveal the best stems to cut and plant.
This beautiful tree had fallen in a storm over nine years ago, but now grows in the more sheltered gardens.
The Rowan tree has long been regarded to possess magical and protective qualities and often was planted near Irish cottages.
This may have something to do with the fact that there is a small five-pointed star, or pentagram, opposite the stalk of each berry.
The covering on the tunnel is in need of washing, for the algae has settled on the outside…a task to add to my weekly list!
These are a welcome source of food for blackbirds and if not eaten, remain on the plant until spring, providing an important food-source for young birds.
Ivy makes a magical decoration for the home towards midwinter… I always look forward to gathering and decorating the mantelpiece with this wonderful greenery, leaving plenty for the birds!
The partying has been going on around the clock for a few days now, with most of it taking place in and around this humble little, easy to grow plant…the Nasturtium!
Bees and Caterpillars are stocking up on the end of season glut, before the first frost descends, as surely it will this week!
Once the frost comes then the Nasturtiums will die off completely as they appear to melt in the extreme cold!
And, in the meantime, these beautiful Caterpillars eat their way to transformation, as Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies! The rain has fallen steadily for several days now, filling containers all over the gardens.
These shallow containers with rims, are essential for bees to drink from, as many die struggling to climb out from water barrels.
They are also quite beautiful, in that they pull the sky into them, creating magical light in dark areas of undergrowth, like here.
Whether on the ground or, as here, in trees, little areas of water are welcome feeding stations for small wildlife.
This Virginia Creeper stays for much of the year, unnoticed, as it spreads its tendrils through the Rose Arch, only to dance out onto the stage as the curtain falls!
Even the Lemon trees are coming up!
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The apricot glow of a fading October sky, merged with the heavy rustling of cows on the field across the lane, drawing me outdoors.
This is a magical time of enchantment, with Nature and late evening light.
Any noise on such a still evening exudes an eerie quality of something not understood…always best to go out and uncover the mystery.
As it was, the cows and their calves had nuzzled in close to the hedgerow, to bed down for the night.
The heaviness of their bodies crushing branches, as they leaned into the conspiratorial thorn hedgerow.
Peering back in through the window of the cottage, lit only by a candle, illuminating the kitchen, it is easy to believe in the fairy folk…
It was remarked by many in 1950s rural Ireland, that the newly installed electric light drove the fairies away…
This passing of the light should be a signal for us all to slow down and embrace the stillness of the year, allowing ourselves time to reflect on our sacred journey.
The Fennel looks to all intents and purposes the magical plant it is said to be, in this half-light.
It is so majestic, scented, beautiful and useful, that I have a mind to plant it all over the gardens!
An old castle on an island in the forest, not far from Bealtaine Cottage, and where I walked today with my daughter, Cara, whose birthday we celebrated, with a walk through this magical landscape on a glorious autumn day.
This is Lough Key and the castle once belonged to the MacDermott clan who lived here hundreds of years ago.
The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient annals, being a focus for both fighting and partying.
Brian of the Carrick, Chief 1585-92, is reported to be last head of the clan to live on the island.
During this time the park was called Moylurg and the Kings of Moylurg were the MacDermotts.
Just resting against this tree made me feel joyous…what amazing energy and strength emanates forth from trees like this!
The mighty Oak has had importance and great significance to the Celts, from ancient to modern times.
This is where the ancestors worshipped and held important events in the old calendar, for the Oak Grove was considered sacred.
The Druids made their magic wands from only three woods…Yew, Oak and Apple.
As the sap begins to drop in the trees and the leaves turn colour, Ivy, that has previously been shaded out by canopy, emerges into its own, as a permanent reminder to us all that spring will return.
The evergreen girdle of Ivy, on many trees, keeps a host of small birds and insects warm and fed over the dark days of winter.
Similarly, the girdle of Moss, around the base of the mighty Oak, will secure the winter for many small creatures.
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The evening falls a little faster, the light fades in the west and the cottage warms up to greet the night.
The warm air ensures a light mist will rise from the valley tonight.
If the morning is clear, the mist will rise up through the valley and embrace the mountains of Arigna.
We shall see!
Tea, lovely hot and comforting, the cup that cheers…thank you Jane for the beautiful mugs you made for me in your Bandon Pottery.
The vibrancy of this orange flower was brought to Ireland from South Africa over 100 years ago and have become naturalised here in the west of the country, where the Gulf stream makes the climate that little bit softer!
The days of sitting on the bench are not yet over, for the seasons here in the magical west of Ireland, never played by the rules.
Here, Mother Nature goes her wilful, wild way, delighting in surprises that open into warm January days and balmy February afternoons in sheltered places like the south side of Bealtaine Cottage, set here in its own little micro-climate.
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