Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Home Again

Sunday night Tom and I arrived, tired and time disoriented, in Boston after a two-week adventure in Ireland.  We, unfortunately, brought an Irish cold back with us that made our last four days of hiking in the Irish rain a bit uncomfortable, and has now left me without a voice at a time when I am full of images and experiences I want to share.  We were part of a small group of seventeen people on a Sierra Club tour with the enticing title of "In Search of Ancient Ireland."

I saw inspiration for quilts everywhere and ended up taking many pictures of things like stone walls in all their many variations.  It was also the height of the spring wildflowers and  I spent a lot of time with a botanist in the group, lingering behind the rest while we photographed and tried to identify these flowers that neither of us had seen before.  She was a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm about plants.

Bog cotton that looks like wisps of cotton on a stem and has been harvested for mattress stuffing in the past.

I have just begun to sort through the pictures but so many of the sites we visited were on top of mountains with spectacular views.   After a memorable hike in a rainstorm--rain is always possible in Ireland--we arrived on the top of one of the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo and this patchwork is what I saw in many directions.  Click on the photo to make it bigger, if you like.
This photo was a little misty but that is the way the day was, when it was not pouring rain.  Our goal that day was a 5,000 year old passage tomb that we could slither into after removing our packs. 

But this is the island of Ireland and so many of our views as we traveled through the west were of the ocean:

This is a view from an area known as the Ceide Fields and the ocean almost surrounded this hill, where ancient stone walls delineating Neolithic farm fields 5 or 6,000 years ago (you can see them on the right in the photo below) were discovered.

The land became boggy as the climate warmed and the removal of trees for farming--even then people were changing the environment-- made the soil wetter and so it eventually had to be abandoned, but the bog grew over the stone walls, preserving them for thousands of years in the original patterns.  They were discovered as the peat created by the bog was harvested.

But the title of this blog refers to more than just our return to laundry and piles of e-mail and junk mail from the post office and foot-high weeds in the garden.  I felt a deep sense of being home in Ireland in so many senses, while at the same time felt the myriad differences between the hills of Pennsylvania and the Irish landscape. And to touch the stones that people 5,000 years ago or more had touched or to sit behind our bus driver on the Aran Islands and listen to him talk in his deep brogue with our Irish guide, or to stand on the top of Knocknarea and hear our guide read a Yeats poem was unforgettable.

Obviously, you will hear more of the trip, and if you're still with me for this chapter, thanks for the company.


Anya said...

Welcome home. Can't wait to see the quilts you create from the trip's inspiration!

Kathy P said...

Welcome home! Ireland has always been a dream of mine - can't wait to see more pics! Post away!