Sunday happened to be Imbolc, Groundhog Day, Candlemas or Brigid’s Day, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It marks the beginning of spring, which I now see comes a lot sooner in Ireland than it does in New England. Our first stop was at these fascinating beehive huts.
Also known as the Fahan Beehive Huts, Caher Conor (Cathair na gConchuireach) is located on the south side of Mount Eagle west of Dingle. The complex consists of five structures.
The clochan (beehive huts) in Caher Conor were probably single family dwellings and were attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling.
The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the “City of Fahan”. Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 B.C.) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan along the Slea Head Drive may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.
A lady, with whom I was riding in the forest, said to me, that the woods always seemed to her to wait, as if the genii who inhabit them suspended their deeds until the wayfarer has passed onward: a thought which poetry has celebrated in the dance of the fairies, which breaks off on the approach of human feet.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have learned through walking with my dogs here that there is an unspoken law. Always send a warning. Never surprise the animal life in the forest. So walking along without the noise of the jeep, it is wise to whistle a little tune and give the creatures some kind of an idea that you are approaching their area. This gives them a chance to adjust and find a place to hide, so they can watch you from their position out of your view. It is wise to follow the rule of the forest.
~ Neil Young
(Waging Heavy Peace)
These are my maternal grandparents and I had never seen these pictures before Saturday. While Tim & I were out shopping, getting ready for our daughter’s wedding, my cousin was scanning and sending some pictures he found of our grandparents in their younger years. Only today did I notice that June 8, Saturday, was their birthday. Thank you so much, Matthew, for remembering!
Grandfather was born June 8, 1905, and Grandmother was born June 8, 1906. They were married 30 November 1929. I never knew my grandfather smoked a pipe – but I always knew he was a perfect gentleman! The dog was their beloved pet, Honey.
Above are my grandparents and their two children, my mother and my uncle.
It’s hard to make them out, but my grandparents and uncle are sitting on the stone wall and my mother is in the canoe. I see her passion for canoeing started in her childhood. She took us canoeing often when my sister and I were children. I’m in a very sentimental, wistful, thoughtful mood this week – five days before the wedding!
Not too long ago my friend Kathy, over at Lake Superior Spirit, looked around her little house in the snowy Michigan woods for colorful or meaningful objects to take outside and put in different places in the snow for a photo shoot. She suggested I might try it sometime.
Well, sad to say, it hasn’t been snowing much here in southeastern Connecticut since the winter of 2011, which was the snowiest winter we ever had. But I decided to carefully pack up the most meaningful of my objects, a large doe figurine, and head out to hunt for a little patch of relatively unspoiled snow.
We wound up at Haley Farm State Park and chose a few spots on a crumbling, lovely old stone wall. For the first picture, which is my favorite, I positioned my doe on a stone that had fallen in front of the wall. For the second spot I put her up on top of the wall so she was a little above the camera. Tim suggested the third setting, placing her on the ground in front of the wall. The little birds came from home, too, as they are usually perched with the doe on a special shelf in my room.
It was fun, Kathy! Then something wonderful happened after we had packed up my precious doe and her little bird friends. A few people came along with their dogs, who were off-leash. Some of my readers may know that I’ve been afraid of large dogs ever since one bit me when I was a toddler. But I watch Cesar Millan on the Dog Whisperer all the time, trying to understand dog behavior and overcome my deeply entrenched fears.
With my deer totem safely in my bag and my husband by my side I watched in awe as three dogs, who seemed to belong to several different couples, greeted each other and asked each other to play. All agreed and a fast game of chase ensued! I suppose dog owners see this kind of thing all the time but for me it was amazing. The dogs were running like the wind, making huge circles around a tree, and barking for the joy and thrill of being alive. Their energy was boundless, and they whooshed close by us several times. I wasn’t afraid! I could interpret their behavior correctly! Tim took the camera and tried to get a few pictures. I will never forget this experience!
It has turned into a three-day weekend for me! Friday Janet and I got together to create pysanky – Ukrainian Easter eggs. While visiting her I was introduced to Maggie, a very sweet twelve-year-old shelter dog with arthritis who is a pit bull or mostly pit bull. She barked for a while after I arrived – Janet explained she had anxiety issues. So Maggie and I had something in common and soon relaxed around each other. Maggie kept Janet and me company as we worked on our eggs, and then the three of us took a nice long walk along the rural roads surrounding Janet’s home. It was a bright, warm-in-the-sunshine, cool-in-the-shade, day. On my way out Janet gave me some venison and a recipe for it to try out on Tim. Thanks to the GPS, I successfully navigated my way home!
Tim was working off and on this weekend, but we did get out a little on Saturday, stopping by the grocery store to get some more ingredients for the venison stew. It was very windy and we were amazed to see the flag over the grocery store flying straight out. Storm clouds were gathering, but I managed to get a picture of the chionodoxa popping up through the periwinkle and dead leaves in my garden. Tim returned to working, from home, and I watched a couple of other versions of Jane Eyre from Netflix. The rain came down hard overnight, but this day dawned bright and sunny again, a bit warmer than it was Friday.
Is it so small a thing To have enjoyed the sun, To have lived light in the spring, To have loved, to have thought, to have done?
~ Matthew Arnold
Today was a slow cooker day. The recipe Janet gave me for the venison stew was given to her by Erik, Janet and Tim’s stepdad, who died in 2008. He was a fantastic cook! When I first read through the recipe, I noted with a smile that it was from an out-of-print cookbook Erik had, called Glorious Stew by Dorothy Ivens. This brought back a pleasant memory. Many years ago Tim had enjoyed a stew Erik had prepared so much that he wanted the recipe. When Erik showed him the cookbook Tim decided he had to have one, too, but it was already out of print. So Tim asked the Book Barn to set aside a used copy for him, if one ever came into the store. A used copy did show up after what seemed like a very long time, so Tim was thrilled to finally have his own copy! 🙂
So… I modified the recipe a bit for the slow cooker and it smelled so good cooking away all day. Being a morning person, I love slow cookers because I can prepare something yummy early in the morning when I’m fresh and alert and then have something wonderful to eat in the evening, when I’m too tired, cranky and overwhelmed to cook. When Tim got a break this afternoon, we went out for a walk around Olde Mistick Village and when we arrived back home the stew smelled tangy and very tempting. It was delicious!
I took some pictures of the ducks and shops on our walk. Yes, today we have enjoyed the sun…