And the Islands Whispered….

I arrive a day or two ahead of Mr. Zany Mountain to the western edge of Kerry. Still with city dust and rush in my system.  It’s all there, the joy as we round the last bend to Ballyferriter, the excited children, the familiar tug of the heart.  The Kingdom of Kerry puts her best mantle on to welcome us-the sky is endless, cornflower blue. The sea is turquoise and silver, the Blasket Islands-the two clearly visible from the cottage are shaded in gold; so close you can see the ridges and spires.  Stand for a moment in Ceann Sibéal on such a day and the very earth, the very universe itself shimmers in magical folds around you.

Something has happened me lately, an internal shift. I didn’t go outdoors for most of spring, I couldn’t write a word. I was tired. Tired of the work, the carrying and fetching, other people, problems out of my control.  I was tired of myself, if the truth be told. I had the pallor of it-my skin as pale as a ghost.

On our first days there, there is a heat wave. We stretch outside the cottage, books, wine, sun hats, soaking all that good Vitamin D. I feel like a cat, stretching and snoozing in the heavenly still air.

And all the while as I lazily sit outside the cottage in my left ear, the islands throb with a pulse of their own. Calling, whispering, with an unexplained energy.

The two islands visible from Ceann Sibéal are Inis Tuaisceart and An Tiaracht. Sometimes they are so close that you can trace them with fingertips, sometimes they are so forbidding and cold, sometimes they are not even there, in times of evening haze or morning mist. You can only see the edge of Great Blasket (An Blascaod Mór) the largest, almost hulking island  from that particular point, as the little cove outside the cottage (known as Ferriter’s Cove) is sheltered by Clogher Head-a climb worth taking, because that is a vision of heaven where you can see all the islands together. Truly!

20170721_160138I don’t know if I have some kind of spiritual renewal or awakening here, but something gradually creaks open in my soul. I am not religious in the conventional sense, but I believe in human connection, nature, love and the universe. And in my tired, depressed and weary heart, everything flows here in this place to fill in the empty cracks. I see it in the evening murmuration of sparrows, exotic insects, the rainbow of wildflowers. I pass strangers and we stop and warmly chat. I light a candle in a stony church, praying for something to be found, I expect nothing of it, only to turn right and see a stained glass image of Naomh Antaine (St. Anthony, patron of lost things). I laugh and walk and eat  and sleep the sleep of the dead. I cry.

On my last day in Ceann Sibéal, I feel restless again. Myself and Mr. ZM take the final circuitous route from Dingle via Ventry to Ballyferriter. I need to say goodbye to the Islands, I tell him. We stop at the view with the knowing seagulls and we don’t speak, soaking it all in for one final time. I send intentions to An Bhlascaod Mór for a happier outcome to a problem. I cry warm tears behind my sunglasses as Mr ZM squeezes my hand.

It’s the last day and I pause one last time before the long journey east.. I send a final intention to the Islands. For once they answer back in the breeze and in the cries of gulls. I know what the answer is now.

It’s a message of healing.

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Til next time,

Kat x

 

 

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Under a Hopeful Sky..

I haven’t been writing much lately as I haven’t been-well- feeling it. To be honest writing the blog had become a bit of a chore in the middle of stressful and overwhelming period.  I needed to stand back and not think too hard about the whole thing,  to rest my mind following a pretty tiresome spring, where just about everything  that could go  wrong, went wrong-teeth, jobs, cars. You know one of those times that seem endlessly unlucky and overwhelming. If I hadn’t stepped back, I fear I might have abandoned the mountain forever. I was afraid my creativity had drained away for good, my mind an empty husk without a story left to tell.

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However such is life that these times are not forever, a little bit of self-care and a break has restored my faith in the writing, thankfully and peace reigns in the magical days leading up to the solstice. I love our green, lush garden in June, the trees and bushes beginning to bloom with the promise of a bounty of fruit. I have had a few early starts so I love to take to the bed of an evening, curtains open while it is still light in that pink, hazy, still time before the skies darken. I read and watch the birds dip and rise and the nocturnal creatures emerge; bats and moths.  It is peaceful and soothing.

Under the open window I can hear the leaves swish, and I almost feel a painful nostalgia for my childhood home in County Limerick.  Back then, in my bedroom under the eaves of our townhouse, I could hear the mountain breeze lifting and swaying the leaves of the old sycamore tree in the grotto across the road in symphony. The tree in the grotto is sadly long gone of course, but she remains in my memory as a majestic thing, standing proud with her full summer foliage.

The summer solstice is poignant. It is the brightest of days, and at this time it never really gets totally dark in Ireland; a faint astrological glow remains until dawn. It makes me sad to think of the time folding inwards again-but yet it signifies the height of  summer, to come  Strangely I find many people very tired at this time of year, perhaps it is the end of the school term, time for upcoming  rest and freedom.

In among the green, other spring fruits and vegetables have emerged-the cheery sight of raspberries that grow wild by the willow trees, and the spring rhubarb that has a record growing season in this house from February to October.

So, in celebration of the solstice, and summer and the bounty of this hopeful and beautiful time, here is a bright little summer cordial recipe with ingredients from the garden, including our fresh rosemary. This can be added to sparkling water (or gin or vodka in a cocktail, if this is your thing!).

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Ingredients:

Approx 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped

A handful of raspberries (optional)

Zest and juice or two citrus fruits (I used orange)

Sprig of rosemary (basil is also nice)

Cup of sugar (or adjust for sweetness or tartness)

100 ml water.

Method:

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to boil, once boiling, simmer down on low for about 20-30 mins. Once all the ingredients have combined, place a strainer over a jug, add the mixture and allow to strain into the jug, this should take about 20 mins. Add to a sterilized glass bottle-in this case I used an old cordial one, and store in the fridge-it will last about 10 days.

Til next time folks, as the wheels of the earth turn again, may the next 6 months, bring hope and happiness to you.

 

Kat x

 

 

Space and Time..

Hi all,

Taking a bit of space and time here on the mountain. Lots of good things happening and new journeys unfolding. That’s not to say there haven’t been any obstacles or hard times, either. So while I would like to stick up an idyllic “Gone fishing” sign, unfortunately that is not the case. Life is not that easy! Working on a few writing projects here, but I need to arm and steel myself, before launching myself back on the world. Before we know it, it will be summer and I will be back again. Many thanks to all who continue to read and support the blog. I have lots in store for Zany Mountain, including the design and layout of the blog and new  exciting collaborations. For now, taking a small break, while I work it all out. See you all soon., my loves,

Kat x

Loss and Love.

I am conscious that this is the second post in row, featuring the word, love. Honestly, you really must think I am a soppy auld cow. Except I am not, really. I am hewn from clear and clean mountain air, worry and sweet isolation.

I may travel, but Limerick is my blood; the very essence of my being. I fight it lads, I fight the Stab City tag, the prejudice, comments and the constant slagging. Secretly I relish it, really. Here is a bit of a secret; those urban, inner city Dublin folks love Limerick, I am met constantly by Dubs going “I would never have thought that I would have been friendly with a Limerick person” Yes the Dubs and the Limericks- born for each other. Natural companions-who’d have thought? It is all in the wit and the fun.

When I think of Limerick, I often think of magnificent women. Limerick women are famed for their beauty-so they say. They also  have the skill of softness, toughness and reality, a love of family and friends. A very real combination.

A great Limerick woman departed our shores today. A true woman, born of kindness and inner beauty and love of family and fun. Safe travels Helen. We don’t want to hear it but life delivers us lessons. Thank you .

The Art of Worry……

I’m a worrier. I was born to ruminate, to ponder and to plan. My worry gene is rooted deeply-you might say it is generational. My Granny, who lived with us growing up was an amazing woman, but she was known as fussy woman-in other words; a worrier. Granny was the woman who fed and watered and mithered over us. She was the woman, who on my first day of secondary school, rose at the crack of dawn and made sure I  had eaten for breakfast and had the right socks, of all things. She was the woman who made sure I had a spare pen for my exams, the passport when I decided to take off to live afar and she always drilled into me the idea of pin money. Always have a few quid stashed away for a taxi, or the “way home”.  One day she told me that all this worry over small things would mean I wouldn’t worry about the big things.

Now being my Granny’s granddaughter, I naturally worry about the small things, endlessly.  I have literally  years of experience clocked up fretting  about car parking spaces, timetables, work schedules, paperwork, even, for the love of God, fecking socks. And since having children, well not only do I have to worry about myself-but about the small things that bother other living, breathing  humans too. Yahoo, such joy, multiplying all  that worry, yes?

Look, it’s not going to change anytime soon, the small worries of this world. I have accepted that this is my inherent nature to fret a little.

But, Granny was right. I’ve had BIG worries lately. Worries without an end in sight, or so it seemed in the early days. And folks, I will admit, I nearly went under that old ton of bricks.

Until last Tuesday at about 4.55 pm. Yes, I know, dear readers, I like to have my revelations at the most mundane of times. (Feel free to step off the roller-coaster of this blog, anytime, if you feel the excitement is getting too much!) . What happened that day? Firstly, I  simply realised that my worse fears had been recognised in the last 6 months. Secondly, I realised that we had survived these fears, not only survived them, but managed them. And in that ordinary moment, in my ordinary car, driving to my ordinary suburb, I felt a sense of peace and calm that I can only describe as  pure and utter freedom of being, a rare sense of almost floating….

That was until the petrol gauge beeped yellow and my  small worry meter shot up again, of course…….

Food for thought folks

Kat xx

Tales of Love.

I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Not romantic love (Jesus Christ I am Irish-what would I be doing talking about that in public), but rather the deep down, human, connected kind of love, the type that often goes unnoticed; somehow taken for granted.

I was in Clare a few weeks ago. The weekend weather was wild, stormy, and dark. The rain lashed endlessly and it was freezing. No place for the faint of heart. We ran into a bit of car trouble there on our last evening. My mind, low as it could ever be at the end of winter, drifted. I could not sleep that night. I paced the house, restless and unsettled, anxious and worried about getting back to Dublin for work. I hopped into bed beside my youngest daughter, who was still and peaceful.  Without even thinking she cradled her hand in mine and held it for the few hours of snatched sleep ahead. Did she sense my unease or distress? She did instinctively in the unconditional way of children. And this is the way of uncomplicated, easy love, isn’t it….

There has been a series of unfortunate events lately up on Zany Mountain. Nothing life threatening such as bad health but still, loads and loads of minor things that, when lined up, can conspire to make a person to feel  they are being buried under a ton of bricks. I often notice that when one is stressed, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage said stress. Such a paradox, but so true. When things are going along nicely, we manage well. We socialise. Go for lunch.  Meet the girls with ease. Exercise; eat good food; laugh and float along. Not a bother on us, skin glowing, hair shining. But it is when the chips are down, in the very time we should be meeting the girls and exercising and eating well, we isolate and insulate ourselves. How flawed is our thinking. Our very human mechanism wired for failure………..

Or is it??? We as humans have also one last trick up our sleeves. And that is our ability for survival and gratitude. Now real gratitude is so very hard to cultivate, least of all in the rough times. Or so I thought, until recently.  I am Irish to my fingertips as in, I have a capacity for pessimism and fatalism. It is natural for me to look on the bleak side.  And in my recent grey times, the chink of light for me has been the kindness shown to us lately. And so in no particular order; to the friend who made me go walking, when all I wanted to do was stay in and cry, thank you.  And the one who left a bottle of wine and a card on the doorstep, I’ll find out who you are yet….to the mechanic who got me the best deal when the car broke down; to my 76 year Dad for driving across the country and back when we were stranded. For my Mam for ringing me every single day; to my friend who gave me a few fencing panels when the fence blew down. And the friend who picked me up at the station when we were tired and worn. Thank you. Thank you. These small things are the very essence of love and connection;  they have made the hard times worth bearing.

I do not wish one second of hardship on any one of my friends or readers. Not one second. But if hard times come your way, take heart. It will be VERY tough in the middle of the storm, but when it passes, you will emerge,  stronger, clearer and more conscious of love and kindness and friendship than you will have ever been. From (almost) the other side, I nearly envy your journey.  It will all be worth it. You’ll  understand the true nature of love. I promise. And you know, what else really matters?

Til next time,

Kat x

The Sixth Sense..

Sometimes I wonder do many people see the world through my lens. I  honestly  thought everyone saw patterns and places and times in the same way I did, until I saw a post by one of my favourite bloggers; Office Mum, where she talks about Synesthesia.  The jist of it was that apparently, some of us tricky and complicated humans  have an added sense-  where we associate colours and patterns with words, numbers and places. This is also very apparent with musical people-many see notes in colour. I sat bolt upright; this is a thing! I never knew-I thought it was normal to view the world in such a way!

After reading the article, and almost breaking my neck nodding  in agreement, I  noticed that I see the months of the year in a ferris wheel formation. July is right at the top, January is at the bottom.  October to the left; April to the right. I see patterns and colours at every turn. Places are coloured  for me; Dublin is a vivid burnt orange, Clare is azure blue. Cork likes to think she is tough but in my mind, she is a soft dove grey.  My home place Limerick; she is bay leaf green, dark, lush, complex. Note my counties also have genders!

Since I was fluting around the place, thinking this was all normal, I am flabbergasted that this is a thing and other people actually experience this.  And the thing is I am not a bit orderly. Not one bit. Just that I naturally ascribe positions to the months and years and I see places in colour. And the best bit of having Synesthesia?……. We make great writers. Our senses are expanded. It is a gift…….

If any of my readers experience this, I’d love to hear from them.

Kat x