Easter 2016

The year is slowly moving through the seasons, it’s nearly Easter and time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising 1916. What are you planning on doing? I’m sure there will be events all around the country allowing everyone to get involved no matter where we live.

We’ve had some wonderful weather Continue reading Easter 2016

Vermont – A journey to remember

I arrived back from Vermont a week ago yesterday so it is not surprising that the memories are fresh, however I don’t think that they will ever fade. I was only there for a week, so much happened, so much was experienced that it feels as though I was there longer. Continue reading Vermont – A journey to remember

Morning Practice

Be Still Morning Practice by paleoirish.com
Be Still



Do you have a morning ritual or practice? Is it a spiritual practice or a physical exercise routine? This morning I enjoyed both although that wasn’t my intention.

I went for a hour long walk, at least that was the intention, I don’t know how long I was as I didn’t bring a phone and I haven’t owned a watch in a very long time. I hadn’t slept as well as I usually do as there was something bothering me and I wanted to leave it behind on my walk. I wanted to not be thinking about it all day so I set out on a walk that I know takes about an hour. It’s a there and back walk, not a circuit as our road actually becomes a gravel forest track and ends in the Sitka Spruce plantations, it is used by the foresters when they cut or plant the pine trees and very rarely has any traffic on it. The route that I took this morning is a new extension though, the forestry lads built it during the year to extend their ability to access more trees for cutting and hauling and it has given me a new route for walking.

For awhile on the walk I was still bothered by what I didn’t want to be thinking about and so I was trying to not think about it. Have you ever done that? If you have then I’m sure you know how fruitless that endeavor is. The more you try to not think about it the more it rattles around in your head and grows, you hear imaginary conversations about the issue with other people, it grows legs and can outpace me any day.

After a while I did become distracted by my surroundings and thought about it less and less. Sometimes distraction is just what you need. I recognised the stand of trees where I saw a red squirrel earlier in the year and so I was walking more quietly and becoming more observant in the hopes that I might spot it again. Before I knew it I was at the end of the track and went to investigate the amazing toadstools and mushrooms that I saw a few days ago. I didn’t have a camera with me so I can’t share them with you today, perhaps another day.

I felt drawn into the woods and crossed a ditch so that I was in among the Sitka spruce. We’ve had weeks here with no rain so the ditches are dry as was the forest floor, in fact the forest floor looked so soft and inviting that I put my wind-cheater down on the pine needles and lay under the trees, just at the edge so that I could look up through the trees and also out across the track to see the sky.

At first I moved around a little, finding a comfy spot on the soft ground, just feeling and enjoying the connection of the earth to my body. I became quiet and began to notice all the other sounds that were not connected with me. There was a surprising amount of wonderful birdsong, I cannot recognise many different birds by song and didn’t try to, I just enjoyed listening to them, real surround sound. I enjoyed the play of the branches above me and how the light danced between the needles until it reached me. Every now and then there was sound that was just like rain falling however I knew that it wasn’t raining and after a time I saw what was making the sound. Across the track, above and behind the pine trees I could see wild growing Aspen trees moving in the slight breeze, their rounded leaves rattling and dancing against each other and then quieting again as the breeze died away.

If I hadn’t been so bothered I’m sure my walk would have been just that – a walk. I’m grateful for the experience it became when I got out of the way.

I’m glad to have re-learnt that I cannot “not think” about something, rather I need to replace the thought, much like it’s very difficult to get rid of a bad habit, you will be so much more successful changing the habit than trying to eradicate it. I’m happy to have found some beautiful Aspen in the midst of the pine and will enjoy sharing my find with a tree-wise part-time neighbour who has taught me much about trees and our neigbbourhood because he sees it with different eyes.

Do you have a morning ritual or practice you would like to share? Please leave a comment, I ‘d love to hear from you.

Health and Contentment

Unfortunately the photos from this old post have been lost

It’s the end of December and so the next calendar year is almost upon us. For me the new year really begins at Winter Solstice and I am already enjoying the lengthening of the winter days. We are having a wet and warm Christmas season in Ireland, quite a change from last year’s extreme winter weather and a welcome change for most people I think.

 

I have to admit I really enjoyed last years cold and bright Christmas and I miss the cheer of the snow, this year didn’t feel as festive to me and I have to also admit that I am becoming very tired of the mud that the almost constant rain has brought around my door.

Despite the unseasonal warmth (warmest Irish Christmas on record apparently) we still need to keep our fire lit. I have spent the last hour in the timeless chore of cutting kindling, emptying the ashes from our small stove and laying down the fire-start, I am sure every stove owner has their own way of setting the fire-start depending on what fuel they burn. We burn a mixture of peat briquettes and our own white-thorn wood, cut from the overgrown hedge earlier in the year. My partner and I even have our own ways of setting the briquettes, kindling and paper to start the fire and each is equally successful.

Some days my favourite part of starting the fire is cutting the kindling. At the moment we have a few wood-piles lying between the sitting room and the kitchen in our new house. We have a pile of saw-mill cut timber there which we have used for framing the walls, this pile is dwindling as we run out of wall framing timber (because happily it is in the walls) and the pile of cut-offs has grown. Some of the cut-offs will still be used in various jobs about the house however some pieces are destined to become kindling.

Every few days on of us goes out and picks a piece of wood that looks unsuitable for anything but kindling and we chop it up with our small axe. The chopping block is currently in the bathroom, incidentally that’s also where this year’s Christmas tree is. Doesn’t everyone keep their Christmas tree in the bathroom? Perhaps not. Our tree actually consists of a few Pine boughs that I cut the day before Christmas Eve and tied in a decorative fashion to a framing timber on the wall. I then decorated these with our small stash of Christmas decorations, I couldn’t find the stored box of decorations from last year so it was a bit improvised, none the less it is very pretty.

So the bathroom is very central to our activities this Christmas. The chopping block is a 2foot length of wood, 9x3inches, a cut-off of a roof beam. I enjoy chopping kindling. You really need to focus as your fingers are never far from the axe blade when you make that first incision that grips the piece of wood before you proceed to split it by hammering both the wood and the axe together down on the chopping block. It’s a very satisfying job, mark, split, gather the pieces into a basket.

Ever since axes have been used people have performed this task of making kindling for the fire. Perhaps it is the time of year that made me think of the generations of people, across the world, that tend to the cooking or winter fires, to warm and feed their families. Gathering and cutting firewood in some places or cutting turf, drying it and bringing it home as generations of Irish people have done over the centuries. Storing the winter fuel to keep it dry, ensuring it is not too far from the door especially in snowy or wet winters. For some people now the fire is no longer a necessity, whether or not it is essential the hearth has still a special place in many homes.

 

   Now at the turn of the year I wish you

  the warmth of a brightly burning fire

  as these lengthening winter days pass.

  I wish for you health and contentment in the coming year.