wood wide web

“Landscape with Stump” by Ivan Shishkin

But the most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive. Only some stumps are thus nourished. Perhaps they are the parents of the trees that make up the forest of today. A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods. Scientific research aimed at understanding the astonishing abilities of this partnership between fungi and plant has only just begun.
~ Peter Wohlleben
(The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate ~ Discoveries from a Secret World)

Blarney Castle

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ our first glimpse of the famous castle

Waking up Monday morning my cold wasn’t too bad, mainly a sore throat. Katherine had to go to school and her parents had to work so Larisa dropped us off at Blarney Castle. It was another damp and chilly day but we had fun.

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ detour

The usual path to the castle was blocked off because they are in the middle of some major renovations.

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another glimpse ~ we were definitely taking the long way around!
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

When we got close to the castle we stopped and had the most delicious and warm bowl of Irish Stew at the Coach House Cafe. It really hit the spot. In spite of my sensitivity to wheat I took a bite of the warm brown bread that came with the stew. Yummy! 🙂 It’s not often one finds something that tastes so good at a cafeteria!

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ seating for summer tourists and an orb

The cafe was in the old stables and we ate in the main room. As we were leaving we saw that in the summer there was space right in the stalls for overflow dining. My only complaint was (again) no heat in the restrooms! Brrrr….

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another building in the stable yard
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking though the book on Irish birds I bought at the wildlife park, I think this bird might be a pied wagtail ~ he was surveying the stable yard
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ the best shot I could get of the impossibly narrow steps

Because of the castle renovations we could not take the usual stairway up to the Blarney Stone. We never made it to the stone at the top because, well, the alternate steps were very small and continued to narrow the higher we went. We made it about 3/4 of the way up before we called it quits and retreated. We had to return home without our gift of eloquence. Notice in the picture above that the only railing we had was that wobbly rope. I’m only 5 feet tall and I had to duck to go through that doorway. And going down was even harder to pull off for these senior citizens. Phew!

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ well, at least we made it up to the kitchen
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ scaffolding for those working on the renovations
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ snowdrops
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ friendly European robin

On the castle grounds there are several other things to see. For this trip we chose the Rock Close. Pictures of that magical place in my next post…

Inch (Ínse)

2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ a family enjoying a ride on the beach

Next stop was Inch Beach! Another location where part of Ryan’s Daughter was filmed.

2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ the scenery was indeed breathtaking

Inch or Ínse meaning Sea Meadow (Oilean Ínse – Island of Inch) is best known for its impressive Blue Flag beach. It offers miles of golden sand and breathtaking scenery showcasing mountain, beach, valley and sea. Standing on the beach, the 360 degree panoramic view before you encompasses the McGillycuddy Reeks, Rossbeigh Beach and the northern shores of the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Slieve Mish Mountains which form the backbone of the Dingle Peninsula and the magnificent sand dunes that stretch along this amazing sand spit. A majestic setting, which has inspired artists, poets, writers and was chosen as the location for the Hollywood films Ryan’s Daughter and Playboy of the Western World.
~ GoKerry website

2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ another adventure with her Papa
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ sand, sea and sky as far as the eye can see
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ drawing on the sand with Papa
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ amazing vistas even if my family was all looking down for shells
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ it’s good to know there is still much beauty left on earth
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ uncounted shells, beauty in the small details
2.4.18 ~ Inch Beach, Kerry, Ireland ~ time to turn around and walk all the way back to find lunch in the restaurant on the right

After a nice long meandering walk on Inch Beach we had lunch in a crowded beach restaurant. The parking lot was full so some cars were parked right on the sand. And so we were off to our next destination where I encountered my first Irish forest.

Caher Conor (Fahan Beehive Huts)

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ not sure if the 2,000 BC date is accurate ~ other sources suggest the 12th century

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.

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor greeting us was eager to sell us tickets
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the ticket booth was a bit run down but Larisa found him friendly enough
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima, Katherine and Tim had already started the 2-minute walk up the mountain path
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the path narrows
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ stone wall path boundary
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ looking back down at the sea behind us
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I loved the lichens on the stones and the little green mosses and plants
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

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.

~ Saints & Stones website

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this enclosure didn’t have a roof
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa coming through a doorway
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine going through a doorway
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ orbs ~ I found the one with the bright center very interesting
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ it was so cold that Katherine finally relented and put her coat on ~ notice the pink plastic spoon in her hand ~ it was with her most of the day
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and a gorgeous view
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima and another view
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this cross would make more sense being here if the wall was built in the 12th century
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Barbara & Tim with orbs ~ Larisa knit the hat from Irish wool ~ at first she let me borrow it but then she gave it to me ~ now I have wool hats from Ireland and Norway!
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I think Ireland may have even more stones than New England does!
2.4.18 ~ view from Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ coming around a corner
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the walk back down to the parking lot
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor keeping tabs on our departure
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ a door on a nearby building
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the side of the same building, set well into the steep mountainside
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the narrow, one-lane road between the entrance and the tiny parking lot
2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ view looking down from the parking lot ~ yikes!

It was good to get warmed up in the car and drive off for our next destination.

The Plough Bed & Breakfast

2.4.18 ~ view from The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ morning light and the moon

After our long afternoon at Coumeenoole Beach we found our bed and breakfast, The Plough. The hostess, Beatrice, made us feel right at home. When we got warmed up and settled, we headed out again for dinner at Lord Baker’s, Dingle’s oldest gastro pub and largest restaurant. Tim & I had one of that night’s specials, Slow Roast Shank of Kerry Lamb & Red Wine Sauce. (local and grass-fed lamb) It was so delicious that we are still talking about it!

2.4.18 ~ view from the The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland

When we returned to our B&B I was feeling chilled so Beatrice warmed up a hot water bottle with a faux fur covering to take to bed with me. I warmed up quickly and slept very soundly. 🙂

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland

Sunday morning Tim & I woke up before the others and took a morning walk. The surrounding scenery was soothing and pastoral. We were overlooking Ventry Harbour and the moon was still in the sky.

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ some whimsy in the garden

When we returned for breakfast we had a pleasant surprise. The first thing offered was porridge and was it ever tasty! Beatrice said the “secret” ingredients were local, sweet cream and a little shot of Bailey’s. 🙂 Then we had a choice of various egg, ham, and sausage breakfast combinations.

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ beautiful stone wall and daffodils!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ the plough
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ Ventry Harbour
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ daffodils in February!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ a very cold me!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ whimsy at the front door
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ reading nook

I loved the pillows Beatrice used in her sitting room! This was our first time ever staying at a bed & breakfast ~ thank you Larisa & Dima for the special treat!!!

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ deer pillow
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ woodsy pillow
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ robin pillow

We had a long day ahead of us and so we were then off for the next adventures.

Coumeenoole Beach

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Visiting Coumeenoole Beach Saturday afternoon was amazing! I was already excited to have learned, the night before as I was browsing online, that parts of the movie Ryan’s Daughter had been filmed on this beach. This brought back to me a distant memory; Ryan’s Daughter was the first R-rated film my parents allowed me to see. And I was in awe of the cinematography.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

We stopped first at the top of the bluff to take in the breathtaking scenery from above. You’ll have to forgive me for posting so many pictures! I took hundreds and it was impossible to choose just a few.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Then Tim and Larisa drove down the steep road (see below) from the bluff to the beach. Dima and Katherine decided to walk down the path and stairs and I followed them with the camera.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Oh what a wild and free Atlantic Ocean!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the family looks down to the beach below
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ father and daughter share a love of adventure
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ those were some huge waves down there!
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ almost down to the road
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the road from the steps down
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ look at those tiny people down there!
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I finally make my way to the sand
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ our little explorer
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide is coming in, rather quickly

I learned later that at low tide the beach goes much farther out. The tide continued to come in. I’m not sure how many hours we spent there enjoying all the nooks and crannies in the rocks.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I was worried the tide would catch Tim over there
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ late afternoon sun
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine never tired of exploring ~ she has always loved the great outdoors
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ having people in the pictures helps to get a sense of scale here
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I’m pretty sure this was Dima and Katherine’s creation
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I took lots of close-ups of the rocks for my sister, the geologist
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and Katherine, still moments by the sea
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima sets off on his own adventure ~ he disappeared around the corner and I have to admit I was a little concerned for his safety
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ my darling little Katherine
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Even though I loved climbing trees as a child I still cringed when my kids started climbing trees and rocks. I never stopped them but I couldn’t look. After I grew up my mother told me she couldn’t watch my sister and me climb trees either. That feeling rose up again watching some of the rock climbing Larisa and Katherine did. Eventually I turned away… The rocks my kids climbed on at our local beach look pretty tame now after seeing the young ones taking on these rocky cliffs!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide looks like it might be in

So that ended my picture taking. Well, I also used up both camera batteries. 🙂

I watched Ryan’s Daughter again one afternoon this week. (It’s a very long movie with an intermission.) It was fun recognizing Coumeenoole Beach in parts of the film. The storm scene was shot during an actual storm on this beach. The waves were about 20 feet high. Tim guessed the waves were about 8 feet high the day we were there.

What wonderful memories I will cherish of this awesome afternoon by the sea…

Conor Pass (An Chonair)

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Saturday morning Dima, Larisa, Katherine, Tim & I piled into a rented car and took off for the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Larisa drove.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Going through the mountains of the peninsula we traveled on a one lane road and frequently had to pull to the side to squeeze by cars coming from the other direction. Had to remember to pull to the left because they drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. This took some getting used to.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ Tim

We finally came to a rest area with parking and got out to take some pictures of the breathtaking scenery.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

It was a grey, damp and chilly day.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ mountain in the distance with snow cap
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ two cars squeezing by each other

And then we headed down to the town of Dingle where we found a place for lunch. The rest rooms were so cold! But the food was yummy and I learned what a standard breakfast in Ireland consisted of. (I ordered breakfast because they served it all day and with a wheat allergy it can be difficult to order a sandwich without bread.) Only one egg! Two huge pieces of ham, two huge links of sausage, and the option of adding on blood sausage (in addition to the regular sausage) which they call blood pudding.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

While we were eating the sun came out and we decided to go to Coumeenoole Beach for the afternoon.

profound stillness

“Forest in the Winter” by Isaac Levitan

I love the deep silence of the midwinter woods. It is a stillness you can rest your whole weight against. Not the light silence of summer, constantly broken by the sound of leaves, bird-song, the scurry of little beasts, the hum of insects. This stillness is so profound you are sure it will hold and last.
~ Florence Page Jaques
(Snowshoe Country)

When I was a child I loved winter, still do. There were so many moments when time seemed to stand still. Outdoors playing in the swamp and in the woods behind our house. The magic of ice-skating between clumps of earth surrounded by ice in the swamp. At dusk. Sometimes there were snow flurries, too, adding a silent thrill to the spell.

Only now do I discern the concept of stillness. My life happens in a small city these days and I have been complaining to Tim about the racket the snow plows keep making in their ceaseless efforts to keep the roads and our parking spaces clear. I find myself craving to be away from the noise, to enjoy snow flurries out my window without the inevitable pandemonium.

Maybe I’m just cranky these days. A couple of days before my six-week surgery follow-up I came down with a bad cold. Tim had it for three days before I succumbed to it, so we have been very miserable together. As soon as I got the go-ahead from the surgeon to resume normal activities I was too sick to enjoy the freedom! And now that the cold is almost gone I will be going to see the radiation oncologist tomorrow to consult about the next round of treatment.

A few years ago I wrote this on one of my posts:  One early wordless memory I have is of lying on the cold winter ground in the woods and eyeing a little princess pine peeking through the snow. I was astonished at the connection I felt to the small precious life, and how thrilled I was to be aware of its presence!

One little princess pine in an endless sea of snow and trees. I thought of that moment once again when I read Florence Page Jaques’ words about “a stillness you can rest your whole weight against.” One little cancer survivor in the endless flow of here/now.

endometrial cancer ~ workforce reduction

12.16.17 ~ Katherine and Dima in Ireland ~ photo by Larisa

So, we’ve had a couple of nasty surprises in the past few weeks.

It turned out that my uterus was not only full of pre-cancerous cells, but also was harboring endometrial cancer that had spread more than 50% into the myometrium layer. So while I was still under anesthesia the surgeon took some lymph nodes to be examined to determine if the cancer had spread any farther. We had to wait two weeks for the lab results. Thankfully the lymph nodes were negative. Good news. Hopefully all the cancer has been safely removed but I will have to have two weeks of radiation in January out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile I have three and a half more weeks to heal from the surgery. I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. but have begun puttering around the house between long naps.

My sister-in-law came for the first two weeks and took very good care of me and cooked all of our meals. Tim’s brother came after the first week ~ it was fun having both of them around and helped the waiting-for-lab-results time to pass more quickly. Thank you, Dan & Fran!!!

They say when it rains, it pours. Well, Friday was Tim’s last day of work. “Workforce reduction” to use corporate-speak. What a “thoughtful” Christmas gift…

Time for another nap. I understand fatigue is par for the course, all energy going to healing. But I wanted to let my readers know how I am doing. Hope to be back visiting blogs soon. Steady as we go.