Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast#2

Hello again from Belfast Botanical Gardens. Several weeks of mid-summer heat, a rare enough treat in these climes, along with intermittent heavy rain, have brought about a magnificent swathe of blooms of all colours and variations. Most striking is the wild flower patch with deep blue cornflowers and lazy daisies. I’m doing the best I can to squeeze in a morning walk around Botanic at least once each week and catching a coffee with Fintan or a daughter into the bargain. While I tend to enjoy each season for it’s unique beauties, for now summer’s where it’s at. Happy Summertime folks!

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Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast#1.

Today in Belfast seemed like the first day of a real Spring season so I took a walk around Botanic Gardens and Stranmillis. Cherry blossoms are everywhere and the bluebells are in full bloom as well, perhaps a little early but I’m not complaining since they’re my favourite flower. Though sunny, the air was chill and I used that as an excuse to do my usual jaunt into the Ulster Museum (so conveniently situated right in the lovely Botanic Gardens). Took a few snaps along the way, hope you enjoy 😊

Elemental: One Wet and Windy July in Ireland

monochrome image of trees blowing in strong wind on a widswept hillside

Image citation https://www.flickr.com/photos/euanzkamera/7916292824 Euan Morrison (September 2012), Trees in the Wind II, Lomond Hills

Many ancient traditions, as well as some modern belief systems, view all life and existence as being made up of five elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. While each element brings unique qualities to the mix, they all blend together to create the dynamic manifestations of our perceived reality and experiences.

It is, perhaps, in the midst of nature that we humans sense our existence most deeply, feeling connected to the planet while we walk our gardens and even to the wider Universe as we gaze at the night sky. I believe that these sensations happen through direct contact with elemental aspects.

Think of a windswept hillside or rustling trees; a loud downpour of heavy rain or a silent fall of light, fluffy snow; a golden sunrise or crimson sunset; sand sliding through your toes or waves splashing around your ankles; the emotions of relationship and the inspirations of spiritual practice, whatever you perceive that to be. The list of possibilities is endless. I’m captivated still by the Louis MacNeice poem The Sunlight on the Garden, particularly when I look out at the pale streaks or sunrays across our hedge on a winter morning.

Though sun basking is a favourite activity when I get the chance, today I am a little more fixated on wind (air) and water, both very powerful yet both also capable of being soothing and gentle. In the part of Ireland where I live, weather is relentlessly changing and notoriously unstable. Rainfall levels are at the higher end of the spectrum and seem to be living up th their reputation as July progresses; winds bluster and blow from the Atlantic Ocean or North Sea and most winters involve some snow, although we are considered a temperate clime.

Many friends and neighbours complain about the weather and understandably so – I have done my fair share of moaning about it too, especially when it becomes necessary to drive in poor conditions in order to get to work or school. But in recent years I find myself less likely to resist the wearisome weather and more inclined to accept and see the beauty in it all. I find wet, windy days exhilarating now; cold, crisp nights uplifting; frosty mornings enchanting. While I love summer, Autumn gives me some kind of earthy pleasure. It is all so elemental.

Here’s the band Earth, Wind and Fire singing September.

Rooting for Wild: A Tribute to Book and Film

2015/02/img_1475.jpgMay14 007

I love walking, especially in the Mourne Mountains with my husband Fintan. Reading about walking cheers me too, especially blogs like 30 ways of walking and Rebecca Solnit’s book Wanderlust, as I noted in early posts.

Imagine how delighted I was to find Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild . It is well worth catching up with for the intensity of experience and the magnificence of nature described by this great author. Her references to poetry and literature as inspirational resources resonate with me too, as I’ve mentioned before.

IMG_1472-0

Tied in with her extreme hike (like most walkers) Strayed found herself on an inner journey as well. Though I’m no real hiker, sticking to a few hours or maybe a day and certainly no camping rough, I too find a form of therapy and restoration in walking. It’s the rhythm of the tramp, the exercise, the fresh air, the daylight, the space to breathe and think and feel.

We caught the movie recently too and I commend Reese Witherspoon- she did a wonderful job and really got the emotion across as well as the gruelling physicality of the role. Wild certainly deserves some Oscars – I’m rooting for Wild.

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