The sun has set into the west, far out on the Atlantic Ocean and the night draws in.
The candle is lit in the kitchen window, a soft light to welcome the night, while on the far side of the room a small lamp illuminates the dark.
“I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.”
― Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal
The Blackbird has sung out the day and in the night, as it flies around it’s territory, marking out it’s boundary in song.
“Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful ev’ning in.”
― William Cowper, The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper
The time between blue and black is quiet, almost timeless.
A mighty storm rages around Bealtaine Cottage as I write.
The morning is filled with roars and whoops of wind as it smashes in from the Atlantic Ocean, enveloping the land with angry energy.
The gable end of this little cottage faces into the west and the worst of Nature’s wrath.
The trees slow it down, calming and sifting its robust anger.
I sit by the table near the window on the north-side, occasionally glancing out when the tempest noise rises.
Over recent days, the need to be with my mother has taken over, as she gently leaves this world, moving and shifting in little caresses of energy, back, towards the Divine.
Her rite of passage will be completed sometime very soon.
I have watched her quiet dignity hold sway over the comings and goings of support staff, family and friends.
My Mother greets her final journey safe within the home of my brother, her first-born child.
Her bedroom, where she grows smaller, like a womb, comfortable and quiet.
This week has been filled with indescribable emotions, but all relating to love.
During this time, my computer has gone on the blink and I have been unable to write and post as I need to…
I need to write… and having a fully functioning computer, that I can use in the warmth of the little lodge, where I over-winter by the wood-burning stove, will be comfort itself.
This will be the beginning of a portable Bealtaine Cottage too, as I will be able to write and post wherever I go.
I am grateful for that!
Thanks and blessings to you, my generous friends!
My mother in the early days of Bealtaine Cottage, surrounded by animals, her grandson and magic in the gardens.
This is where some of her lovely energy will be found, for me, in the coming days.
I found my father here after he passed and came to understand that energy does not disappear…we simply have to re-focus our eyes and listen with our hearts to recognize it. (Mum and Dad, on a visit to Bealtaine about five years ago. I took them to the top of Kilronan Mountain!)
The Celts believed in the Transmigration of the Soul.
Living at Bealtaine for almost ten years now, I have come to understand that belief.
Death is not the end, but a Rite of Passage.
Blessings and thanks to you all XXX
(My Mother passed away this morning. I spent yesterday with her.)
With great longing for home and sadness of leaving, I made the journey back from Connemara today.
As I passed Kylemore Abbey, the clouds began a hasty descent, down over the mountains of the pass…
I longed for home, but was mesmerized by the play of light and mist that is a magical part of the landscape of the West of Ireland.
A landscape that haunts one forever…
Their cottage is surrounded by the most ethereal play of light, being near the shoreline and surrounded by mountains.
I first met Terri and Lol when they visited Bealtaine Cottage to learn more about Permaculture and quickly bonded in a deep friendship.
I meet so many wonderful people here at Bealtaine and am often invited to visit with them, though rarely take the time to do so…
I’m glad I made this journey into the hauntingly beautiful land of Connemara…the images will inspire dreams for many nights ahead in Winter.
The past three days in Connemara have inspired me in many ways.
I met some fine people and talked about wine making and permaculture.
Connaught, the province of Ireland where Connemara lies, has, historically, been associated with immense poverty and harsh living conditions, though its beauty has kept it populated, albeit sparsely in parts.
Many Irish have emigrated from here, down through the centuries, especially so during the Great Famine.
Yesterday morning, I walked in the gardens as the sun rose, and watched the mist slowly lift from the fields, that run down to the shoreline.
Terri and Lol have planted lots of Willow, as a wind break and are developing a sustainable smallholding around their cottage.
Living this close to the mighty Atlantic Ocean, the land is swept by salt-winds and gales, that roar in over thousands of miles of turbulent sea, making landfall, with all the power and destruction only those winds can carry.
The soil is scraped off rock and carried on the winds, to fill crevice and glen.
Even the cows have learned to forage and climb like mountain goats in search of food!
This beautiful creature stood atop the rocks watching the sun rise, as I walked in my dressing gown around the cottage gardens.
In the distance, my little camera picked out the walls of ancient cottages, abandoned to the elements of sea, rain, wind and sun, casting imaginary sounds of past lives upon the mist that lifted heavenwards, in the warm morning air.
As I drove towards home, leaving this magically, evocative landscape behind me, the sheer beauty of Connemara urged me to stop… and take one last image to share with you…
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Drought is no longer a problem as the land in sodden with rain, but it’s not all bad!
Not that it bothers Missy in the slightest!
In fact it’s a glorious summer for the plants and Nature, as the abundance of midsummer flows through a permaculture landscape.
I am uploading today’s video as I type and thinking about the lands that have little or no rain.
It can be tremendously difficult for growers in drought conditions and I am mindful of a the wonderful work being done by by permaculture teachers all over the world as they help people design their way back to abundance.
Indeed, this is the vital message I continue to learn as I do the same…designing the best landscapes in my continual adaptation to the chaos that is climate change.
In the example here at Bealtaine Cottage, that means using stone to make raised beds closer to the cottage and in the warmth of a south-facing aspect.
It also means ensuring both east and west sides of the smallholding are kept exceedingly sheltered, for, indeed, I have noticed that the winds have blown hard from the east over recent days and heavy rains.
Usually they come in from the west and the Atlantic Ocean.
Over recent days I have been on the forage for all the crops that are free in the hedgerows and across the land.
Elderflowers are at their most scented peak and I recall similar wet conditions last year when I went in search of an Elderflower harvest.
It is interesting to keep a record of weather rather than relying on external sources.
Local knowledge is intrinsic to making plans for the next year!
On todays diary of photographs you can see the raised bed, now less than 3 weeks old and already yieding a harvest, as well as the 2nd bed currently completed and being filled with compost.
On today’s video diary you can see the most recent compost heap uncovered and the progress of the latest compost heap under construction.
Today the sky is heavy and grey, but summer rolls on and is quite marvellous.
The Earth exudes the most wonderful summer scents and the birds sing…life is good!
Today at Bealtaine Cottage and the weather was ducking and diving in and out of early Spring! I dashed outside and snapped these pics as it appeared to be early Spring. It’s late here at the cottage, but I’m posting them to this blog, just to share!
Can you see the low cloud moving up the valley, cutting Ballyfermoyle off from the Arigna Mountains?
How’s that for dramatic?
The stunningly beautiful West of Ireland!
The beauty of bare trees reflected in a barrel of pure rainwater.
I rinse my clothes in this to make them extra soft…
Photinia washed by the soft Atlantic rain…
The beginnings of another willow basket waits for me on the veranda…
Moss clings to the thin slates on the cottage roof. I never clean this off as I think it looks so very beautiful and anyway, the roof manages to hold up well in face of the Atlantic storms that swoop in off the ocean!
The sun shone brilliantly today and as it heralded the first day of winter, I felt it was a good time to visit the magical mountain of Knocknarea and the grave of Queen Mebh.
The huge cairn that sits on the top of Knocknarea Mountain and marks what is probably a passage grave housing the ancient Queen, is 55 meters in diameter by 10 meters high.
It was constructed for the mythical Iron Age Queen Maeve, whose father, the high king of Ireland, gave her Connacht as a gift. Archaeologists believe it may really date back to 3000 BC.
It is considered bad luck to remove a stone from the cairn, and good luck to take one up the hill with you to deposit on it.
The view from the top of Knocknarea is spectacular!
Medb (old Irish spelling, pronounced Maeve), was the queen of Connaught. She ruled from Cruachan (now Rathcroghan, County Roscommon).
Maeve features in the story known as “The Tain.” This is also known as “The Cattle raid of Cooley.”
This is the incredible view across from Knocknarea to Ben Bulben. William Butler Yeats is buried at the foot of that great mountain!
Nestled in on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean…descending Knocknarea today!
The Atlantic Ocean on this calm first day of winter!
From: The Old Age of Queen Maeve, by William Butler Yeats
MAEVE the great queen was pacing to and fro, Between the walls covered with beaten bronze, In her high house at Cruachan; the long hearth, Flickering with ash and hazel, but half showed Where the tired horse-boys lay upon the rushes, Or on the benches underneath the walls, In comfortable sleep; all living slept But that great queen, who more than half the night Had paced from door to fire and fire to door. Though now in her old age, in her young age She had been beautiful in that old way That’s all but gone; for the proud heart is gone, And the fool heart of the counting-house fears all But Soft beauty and indolent desire. She could have called over the rim of the world Whatever woman’s lover had hit her fancy, And yet had been great-bodied and great-limbed, Fashioned to be the mother of strong children; And she’d had lucky eyes and high heart, And wisdom that caught fire like the dried flax, At need, and made her beautiful and fierce, Sudden and laughing.
Kilronan Mountain melts away into the valley below on a glorious easter sunday evening… The land below stretches west to Sligo Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, south to Boyle and the land of Roscommon and east towards Dublin City. Loughs are too numerous to mention, villages and townlands with ancient names that stretch back into the mists of legends. Beauty that is both exhilarating and tragic… Abandoned amidst the bleak beauty of Kilronan Mountain, it’s empty windows gazing out across an early summer landscape.Ireland is dotted with these beautiful and evocative old stone cottages. It is heartbreaking to think of the skill and hard work involved in building these unique, vernacular style homes…and like this one, sometimes in the most windswept landscapes imaginable.As the evening draws in and the air begins to chill, it’s time to leave the mountain behind and head home to the warmth of Bealtaine Cottage and a mug of hot tea.