The air is still. The storm has passed. Stillness and silence pervades the cottage. Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge. A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere. Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them. Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places. Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation. Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows. Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend! And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative. Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories. I found this photograph recently. It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland. Scents were what I most missed. The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses. London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air. Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
Saint Patrick’s Day! The middle of March in the West of Ireland…and there is much to celebrate! For we have enjoyed a mild winter and fast warming Spring.
According to the old Irish annals, Patrick died in AD 461 on March 17.
And so, it is today that we celebrate the greatest non-Irish person as the greatest of the Irish… for it is in Patrick that the Irish nurture their sense of national pride.
Much of the landscape of Ireland is awakened into Spring at this point in the year as you can see from the photographs taken this morning here at Bealtaine Cottage.
It has been traditional to plant potatoes on saint Patrick’s Day or thereabouts, so this morning, this is what I shall be doing, having prepared the beds at the beginning of the week, (and sliced through the water-pipe!).
Potatoes in Ireland were traditionally planted into mounds, a form of raised bed.
Potatoes are planted into the mounds as they have a lower tolerance to frost and this way of planting affords a certain amount of protection. Other more hardy crop,s are Peas, Beans and Cabbage, all of which can be planted out regardless of frost.
Permaculture planting takes into account these variants and straw is placed over the beds of potatoes as both a mulch to exclude weeds and a protection against late frosts, which can be expected right through to May!
All these pics were taken this morning and as you can see, it is a perfect planting day in the west of the country. The celebrations and parades will all take place this afternoon, so the morning is planned for a little light work, planting!
So, it just suffices to say…A very Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all, with blessings and love to each and every one of you, from Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.