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a note to my adopted country….

Dear Ireland,

I know we don’t always get along, but I do love you.  Too often I can’t see past your surface humour to the tender heart that upholds and supports it all.  My critical eye looks on talk of drunkenness and excess with judgement, without noting the spirit that so easily laughs and seeks to be merry.   The lack of refinement grates against my finely honed American Capitalist sensibilities, yet its pureness is exactly what I came here seeking.

There was a time when I looked upon your culture, a culture spawned from your rain soaked grasses and low hanging cloud, and longed to sit at her knee to learn a lightness and care my native homeland could not teach.  I saw your people, conscious of and patient with one another, and hoped to be bent, a little, in that form.  How can an island, so simple in its seasons, its customs, and traditions, be the complex, labyrinthine maze you are?

Your dew laden petals have kissed my cheeks and your spring song-birds enlivened my heart.  I have heard the lowing of your cattle on a moon swept field and wept with perfect gladness at the splendour of you.  The quick wit and lively conversation of those human creatures so fortunate as to have been born with your DNA in their blood have made me laugh at, and stand in horror of, my own superficiality.

Éire, your aged Mother whose mountains sucker her young, who is possessed of a thousand names yet can be called by one so perfectly: Ériu.  Here I sit in the bountiful lap of Mór Muman – the greatness of Munster, and the world around me is a perfect softness: a lap so comforting that my heart is grieved by the thought of leaving it.  Yet I feel like a stranger in the land who has not been adopted by the tribe.  I watch from the wild places at the bustle and occupation of so many, yet do not see my place.

The land… I would lay myself down on it and never leave, yet my heart is possessed by another: a fierce sister whose sharp edges and venomous mouth await my demise.  She birthed me, and within my blood swirl her hot talons.  How can I, a mere mortal, hold both the fiery passion of Tejas and the moist creativity of Ériu.  Can a child survive the coupling of this union?

Ireland.  Like so many before me, I am smitten.

Yours, in adoration.

…a simple Texas girl



We visited Kinsale yesterday. Know why? Well, it may have had something to do with the Arts Festival on there right now, but what prompted the journey yesterday specifically was…. SUN. The sun came out after lunch! There are few places more enjoyable on a sunny day than Kinsale. The old town nestled on the harbour is a great place to stroll or just sit and watch the sail boats. There is great food to be had and plenty of people watching to get up to.

I was interested in the exhibit on the Ethics of Objects. The pieces were beautiful, but what really captivated me were the numerous placards of printed exposition by several artists regarding just what art is and why we make it (I include myself in this category, as an actor and writer). The story that stayed with me was of a weaver who had a young Japanese girl come study with her. The girl was not an exceptional talent but was devoted, giving her weaving all of her attention and presence. Eventually the woman began to realize this attitude must be cultural and asked the young woman whether there were any places in Japan to study weaving. She directed the woman to a school where silk weaving was taught. She described how each artist, once qualified, created their own unique, non-repeating artwork to weave into a kimono. It may take an artist a year, or more, to weave and craft that unique work of art. Whomever eventually purchased the kimono payed the artist a year’s wage, or however long it had taken, because that was the worth of the art.

A couple from Dubai are staying with us this month, and the wife is from Vietnam. I told her this story and she said, “Yes. Yes, that is how it was done. There is a place in Vietnam resurrecting these old ways but there are not many.” |t seems so many things are mass produced now. Because, you know… what is the point of only being paid a year’s wage for a year’s work if you can be paid a year’s wage every hour! At least, for the leaders of industry and the owners of capital that is how it is. For those of us who work, and create, and dream…. we are paid a day’s wage after a year!

So cynical in my socialism. Let’s get back to Kinsale. We roamed the streets, grabbed a smoothie at the great juice shop, sat on the quay and watched the sail boats. The breeze was rattling all their riggings, which made a beautiful chorus of tinkling and clacking. It reminded Himself of a hundred someones trying to quiet a room by tapping their silver on the wine glass. It reminded me of a primitive drum circle, where anything close to hand is used as a musical instrument worthy of expressing joy. Have you ever done that? Sat in a circle with others and use your voice, or hands and feet, to create a shared rhythm? It’s great, and a beautiful sound always come of it. Maybe the joy is in the human gathering, the shared experience. Maybe that is art?

We ate fish, which one really must do so near the ocean, and afterwards found 99’s…which were harder to locate than we expected. Before heading home we took a spin toward Charles Fort. I always enjoy going past The Spaniard. The pub is situated on such a great spot, with a wall of outside tables that get the full sun. The tables were all full and each person had a cool pint in hand. That is how summer should be in Ireland!

If you can not think of anything appropriate to say, you will please restrict your comments to the weather. ~ Mrs Dashwood

When a visitor to these green shores, I noted how frequently weather was a topic of conversation. On my lane, even now, the first comment is generally on whether the weather is windy, rainy, a slim window of sun, or pouring. While this constant accounting of the elements at first seemed antiquated, I am now a fully fledged participant.

There has been NO sun in this country for months! Naturally, that is a slight exaggeration but only just. The winter was mild and lingered on under a low, thick blanket of cloud. A common saying heard here, from Donegal to Cork, is: a fine Christmas, a fat churchyard. The colloquial understanding of this phrase is that a mild winter doesn’t kill off the viruses or bacteria, thus leaving them strong and numerous. Not being a biologist, I can’t comment on whether below freezing temps, or snow and ice, hamper these organisms, but I can well imagine the lack of sun during a long, grey winter producing such despair that a body’s own immune system weakens. Depression does that sort of thing.

A couple staying with us recounted the story of lingering Vermont winters. They explained that in a certain college town, come April (and if the winter had been a dull, long, grey business), students were likely to jump from the bridge out of sheer despair. Despair that the sun would never return, that the days would continue on in the monotonous dullness of a perpetual wool blanket.

That has been Ireland this year. The winter was mild and never cleared. Sunny days were sparse. There seemed to be a few bright days strung together in April, a day or two here and there in May…or was that March. We had the wettest June on record. All in all, fairly miserable.

And I feel it. It’s a strange sensation, to feel yourself slip into Seasonal Affective Disorder. It pours over me, almost from the top down. As though I can feel the chemical cascade as it is released from my brain. Lethargy seeps down: a tiredness so intense that even my bones experience it. Despondency is next, with its characteristic, “don’t look at me”. Literally, I can not stand to be gazed at, even by himself. I don’t feel sad, per say. I don’t have negative thoughts of suicide or self-harm: just an overwhelming urge to sit alone and be.

I felt it coming on me yesterday, after these many dreary days began to affect my pituitary gland. The vitamin D supplements came out (why wasn’t I taking them all along?), and last year’s tincture of St John’s wort. I also forced myself to do some yoga and load bearing exercise. Today I’m going for a run. Strange and amazing, how the elements affect us. I can’t begin to imagine what the native population felt in the bronze age when the sun stopped shining altogether!

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