Friday, 31 January 2014

Port Oriel waits for spring.

Most mornings when I am taking the dog for her daft gallop around the fields, I happen to meet a couple of fellow dog walkers who love to keep me updated with the weather forecast. It doesn't matter that I have a smart phone with the latest satellite photos, local up-dates from Met Eireann and forecasts from most international destinations. No, what is important is the exchange of information, the human interaction and the universality of the connection, we care about the conditions that we may potentially have to brave with our faithful hounds come what may.

These guys, well lets just say they are men of the more mature vintage and have a strict timetable, if I am slightly later or more rarely earlier with my walk they are always in exactly the corresponding bit of their route, so the paper shop, the school or the traffic lights etc.. The bit of the connection I enjoy the most is when they are gleefully eager to share the most pessimistic, horrendous report possible. So yesterday, my optimistic opener that was 'Lovely mild morning!' was skilfully rebuffed with a 'Ho but tomorrow is gale force winds and torrential rain!' Great! He was correct.

It has been very grey and wet for days and days here, not freezing but that damp cold wetness that seeps into your very matter and saps the energy to do little but eat hot comforting food, read in a steaming bath and craft/snooze by the fire. It is strange to think that it is almost February and in Ireland that means it is the first day of spring. February 1st is celebrated as St Brigit's day, the first day of Imbolc or quarter day of the Irish pagan year. Some of the legends about her, claim that she was born in Dundalk, Co Louth so making her a local legend.

The Christian version has her as a contemporary of St Patrick and a devoted Christian nun, doing the usual priggish deeds like looking after her father, feeding the animals, founding monasteries, giving away her mother's butter to the poor and protecting her virginity. However, there are also many older and for me alluring, legends locating her within ancient Irish mythology as from the supernatural Tuatha Dé Danann. She is the goddess of fire, a conduit of the power of femininity, of birth and all the pastoral rites of spring.

The last big family walk we had was two weeks ago and oh it felt like spring then. We started at the harbour at Port Oriel and walked over the cliff to the beautiful sandy beach at Clogherhead. The air was so clear, the Mourne and Cooley mountains rose majestic across the bay and the sky was many many shades of blue. I wanted to lie down on the fragrant grass and watch the clouds but there were too many cow pats! The children had not wanted to come out but with a little gentle persuasion they hopped in the car and it was so good to see them running free over the headland and slipping and sliding down the muddy paths. Come and have a walk with us...

 The highlight for them was watching the grey seal fish for it's dinner in the little harbour. Great memories. I am so glad I picked up the camera to record such a lovely day to sustain the heart through the next week which is supposed to be rotten. My sympathy goes out to all those people who have been flooded out for weeks on the Somerset levels. Perhaps the changing of the seasons as we move closer to the light will bring some relief. What green shoots are you looking forward too? Horticultural ones or creative ones perhaps?

A happy St Brigit's day to you all, Virgin and God/dess alike!

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