I really like this, also to remember that miracles are indeed a possibility and that, as one of my teachers, the Homeopath Ab Strattman once told us, you can sometimes invite a miracle into your life and that may indeed be more likely if you are alive to the possibility that your life may be sometimes inconvenienced by someone else’s miracle coming about.
I also liked one comment for that video on Youtube, about saying No : “This video reminds me of how I use to say Yes a lot to volunteering. I never said no. I got to where I never had any time to myself. So my friend said “If it is too much say no. Saying no may be someone else’s yes. That “thing” the person may have just needed in their life.” How true.
My daughter insists that the beak is the wrong shape altogether, so I looked around and picked some thorns of wild-roses for the next ones. In the meanwhile I am happy with this little friendly-looking creature who will get a red loop to hang in the tree.
Today was a fog-covered day until mid-afternoon around here, surrounding landscape in black-and-white, very mild and dry, picked the last of the sloes that I could reach after tending to the animals, and now that the night has fallen started a fire in the stove of timber and turf. I enjoy home and I enjoy away but I do not overdo it. Last week I went on one of the longest train trips possible on this tiny island, two hours to Dublin, one hour to get to the other train station and two and a half hours to Cork. What a lovely city Cork is, what a treat to sit (read, talk) so long on a train, how lucky indeed to have friends.
Good wine makes good blood, good blood causeth good humours, good humours cause good thoughts, good thoughts bring forth good works, good works carry a man to Heaven ; ergo good wine carrieth a man to Heaven. J. HOWELL, Familiar Letters
Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die (alla vill till himlen men få vill dö). TIMBUKTU
Some days, especially the shorter ones at this end of the year, it seems that not much is achieved apart from providing the just-about necessary care to self and the bipeds and quadrupeds in my life. Days literally eaten up by the cooking of dinners and the organizing of school lunches—the aftermath of which sometimes feels that it will absorb more energy that can possibly be mustered—the necessary daily toing and froing in the landscape to deliver people to appropriate places at adequate times and the carrying of victuals to animals. Even putting the homework and the planting of garlic on the longest finger I find it difficult to imagine that I will ever find time again to go into the studio.
In this November time and these oh so human circumstances one must attempt to do all absolutely all as a piece of art, see beauty or pattern, bring intent, and even fail artistically. And then as well, never guiltily, do some bricolage on the kitchen table, something with gathered twigs or leaves, needle felting in instalments, breaking hazelnuts in elegant perfect halves, but also arrange the lunch herrings in the middle of the plates and stop to admire the perfect still life before piling the salad in there somewhere. In these human circumstances one must remember to be alive to oneself and one’s core, and honour it, and I see my core as quirky indeed.
Everybody was gone so I took over the kitchen table, covered it with piles of paper that needed to be made sense of, leaving a little space for plate and tea glass. How enticing everything else seemed, even the choriest chore ! But I went through it all, digressing from time to time and eating well when needed.
Forgot to mark the day but I am now longer in this country than in the land of my birth. I have written here about being in exile before and it seemed that some people read that I was planning to go home. Where is home ? Home is where I am. I like being in exile, the freedom of it : I have been able to leave once, I can walk again if need be—once you are not tied down, it is nice to be where you are. This was a voluntary decision, perhaps even life-saving at the time, perhaps also influenced by definite genes or more violent precedents in the previous generations. Like a majority of people in the world today I speak in my everyday life a language that was not my mother tongue, we are a two-ish language household and counting. But really I am at home where I am, and I am here now, and happily so. There are things I am aiming to change of course, I wish to have more certainty about where it is I live and certainly about the land I work on and where I house the animals I care for and who provide food for us. I would love in the future to have bees, snails, quails, and perhaps even a carp pond. I would love to not have to pack my books, my printing press and my things too often in the future, I am not switching to digital everything for ease of movement, I like being in the one place and around here suits me good.
Why do I like it here ? Difficult to put it into words, although I did a number of times in the past for various publications. It is scarcely populated and so very human. Where else would I need such a short address ? It is where my life has led me, and I am accepting of my life.
There is noise that next year postcodes will be introduced in Ireland, I am not a little worried as I am autistic when it comes to numbers and I take them very dramatically. I love my four-word address, the unbelievableness of it, the homeliness of it. I console myself that it is not too bleak a prospect : if it does happen that places are assigned postcodes, I may be able to just replace the place name by a number and only change that when I move around Leitrim, hanging on to my four-line address.
Yesterday was the glorious morning that had the power to reconcile anybody with their fate, the white frost coating each leaf, the early sun, the vast sky with stylish cloud formations. Today is more like November but I have three gift carcasses of organic chickens simmering slowly since yesterday with a few scrapings of ginger, two coriander roots, a few cloves of garlic, a couple of carrots and the leaves of a celeriac with thwarted growth and slug impacts, so we will all be fine.
I carried the briars I cut for the goats on my head, which was more comfortable than my shoulder until I passed under a black-thorn tree and got everything entangled beautifully. I have scratches on my head I suppose, and today I also learned, again, that leather gloves will allow thorns through if they present themselves at a proper angle, and also that a wet leather glove will conduct electricity very well.
It being November and all, and cold too, I am tucking into the hay reserves, calmly, knowing that if and when the goats have eaten through the heap, I will be able to buy more as this has been such a good hay-making year. Last week we took the time to bring all the goats down the lane, to extend their choice of free-range vegetation and self-medicating opportunities. This is called grazing the long mile, the side of the road being in the commons, traditionally where members of the travelling community who would not own land would be able to graze their horses. It is a long mile indeed the mile that winds along every single road. Nowadays of course a tractor with an extendable arm with a pretty destructive claw at the end will be hired to trim this free source of winter food for the benefit of fast-driving cars. I don’t think hedges should necessarily be left to take over the road but I don’t like how it’s done from the comfort of a tractor seat behind glass by someone who may not care about plants or animals at all. I do.
There was a collection of quotes yesterday in the Mother Earth News newsletter,
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
Karle Wilson Baker
I made a delicious Apple bread, found the recipe here, made it twice, brought it on a visit and it proved super popular, each time with spelt flour but without nuts (cooked it 30 minutes more than was indicated). Am really seriously planning to make mincemeat for mincepies for Christmas, I got a lump of organic suet for the purpose but I have not found the impetus yet and my apples-that-the-cows-threw-off are not looking as good as when the above picture was taken (the Christmas pudding for next Christmas was made a few days before last Christmas, ha!).
I am still eating all my apple cores.