LOOKING BACK AT THE MOON ECLIPSE

I have taken quite a few photos over the eclipse of the moon the other night, and decided to try out making a video.  I use Picasa 3 for my photos and so did the video from that site too.  I have a lot to learn, I think the video is too long, and I did not add any music as was not sure about copy-rights etc….  Your feedback would be very much appreciated.  I thank you for that.

THE SILVER BIRCH

One of the trees in our garden, which we grew from a small sapling that we took from the hedgerow many years ago, is the Silver Birch, (Betula pendula) or in Gaelic it is called Beith Gheal. This tree is native to Ireland.
A fellow blogger on WordPress.com (www.solarbeez.wordpress.com) had recently been instrumental in helping me to focus my attention on to the Birch tree, and I am glad about that, as I discovered quite a bit about this beautiful tree.
Our 30 year old tree stands over 8meter high, which is no wonder because as a species it is the more upright birch growing in this country. Its trunk and branches are covered in greyish white bark, actually quite striking to look at. In literature it says that the tree is quite ok if you want to plant something underneath, and I found that out already and have several raised beds underneath it full of good crops. The sun filters through the shivery little leaves in summer, giving quite enough light for growing crops. In spring it gets catkins, and in autumn, right now there are little brown cones hanging in between the yellowing leaves. The seeds are dispersed from the cones, they are small and are carried by the wind, or they fall to the ground still in the little cones.

The other native Birch is the Betula pubescens or Downy Birch, both trees grow wild in the bog lands of Ireland, but the silver Birch, being shallow rooted, is able to survive and even thrive in wet boggy or poor soil. What I like so much about our Birch tree is the sound made by the breeze lightly blowing through it, a summery sound. We also hear and see the tree nearly blowing over on stormy nights, I read that because of its shallow roots the tree is not very steadfast in the soil and could blow over, ours is only about 10 metres from the house and towering high above it, from time to time it loses some of its branches in high winds. A reason why at times I have thought to cut it down, it is rather top heavy. But then I see how many birds use that Birch, how many birds sing in this tree, and I quickly decide to keep it. I also love its bark, now a days I have to clear the ivy which is in competition with me and grows twice as fast up the trunk as I can think of removing it. Rooks and jackdaws alike tear off young twigs to use in nest building, we have many Rooks around.

Just recently I noticed two little birds who were flittering between the trees branches, trying to eat something, I think the seeds, they hovered in the air to try and get at them. Their sound in the air is rather like a thousand little silver shavings being disturbed by hands. I still have not identified them.

In early Celtic mythology the tree represented renewal and purification. More practically it has also been used medicinally, the timber has been used in making toys, the branches used for making brooms, it is said that the branches were employed as fuel in the distillation of whiskey, the spray used for smoking hams and herrings.  Even today the Birch is a much used tree.
I am glad that I learnt a bit more about it.

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HIDDEN PLACES IN THE GARDEN

After emptying some organic matter into the compost bin at the end of the garden, I discovered some blackberries there and decided to pick them, might make some jam tomorrow adding them to apples. I also discovered some hidden gems while there, even though the garden is small, there is a definite wild part to it at the back, behind the compost heap and fence. There is an old Christmas tree growing there in its own pot, and an hydrangea bush. The whole area is wild and disorganised. I found a lettuce plant growing there in the middle of twigs. There are some old stumps of trees there too and wood that is going to be used for winter fuel. I found lovely flowering bright orange montbretia, and some Fuchsia over the gate, immediately beside a very healthy looking elderberry shrub which I planted there in spring, and another lovely little shrub growing there is a quince which some years ago gave me fruit, but not the past year.  An old hidden water pump is hidden between ferns.  I like to sometimes go there and discover what is going on, apparently there are a lot of hedgehogs in the neighbourhood and I guess I’m hoping to see one some day.
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GOATS CHEESE TARTLETS AND MORE HERBAL HARVESTING

Almost coming to the end of September now, and there is already a colourful display of autumn shades to be seen in trees and shrubbery. My grandchildren were collecting some of these bright red and yellow leaves from the front garden yesterday.
And the harvesting in the garden is never ending, it is just amazing what keeps turning up. The leek and scallion seed heads were finally ready for picking and drying, as was the coriander. Also the seeds of the sweet pea, and poppy, all of them are hanging around the place, what an abundance it is.
This morning, after some years of inactivity, I attended my new yoga class, we did a chakra balancing, lovely stretches and relaxation, as well as some meditation, afterward we met up for soups or coffee, I met new people, was warmly welcomed by a group of nice women. Already looking forward to next weeks session. And I felt energised enough to cook up some goats cheese tartlets this evening which is a bit of a miracle in my kitchen! 🙂
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Goats cheese tartlets,  and fresh coriander seeds

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A variety of seeds to be dried, and a close up of the leek seeds.

“WHILE I AM SHAPING MY GARDEN, MY GARDEN IS SHAPING ME”

Yes, while I am shaping my garden, my garden is shaping me. Yesterday morning I started to realise that this is true for me in my life right now. Next Sunday I will be 66, a mile-stone in Ireland at the moment because it is when you retire. Well as it happens I already had to retire two years ago due to ill health, and while I got used to not working with books every day, it has taken me a while longer to get used to not having the energy that I used to have.

My garden has helped me to return to balance. I have been out there even if I had to drag myself, and it has worked. In the beginning I could barely do 10 minutes after which I would be floored for the rest of the day, but slowly I worked up the length of time. I still need frequent rest periods but it is better than it was. My enthusiasm for growing herbs and vegetables, drying some of them, collecting seeds, infusing oils, propagating from cuttings, planning layout, and improving soils, making compost, and much more is so satisfying and interesting. I’ve gone from working with people and books, to working with plants, soils, and compost, and it’s all good. I find it inspiring the more so as I am learning every single day, reading up a lot on it, attending workshops, online courses on herbs and permaculture, and meeting other vegetable growers.

And now my partner and I are deep into discussions and making plans to turn his 3 acre land into a viable off grid Eco farm, hoping to invite some serious permaculture practitioners to take part in this model of sustainable living in rural West Cork.
So in some way all my permaculture shaping of my garden has opened my eyes and senses to be able to take on larger challenges, though we ourselves will not be living on the farm, we will be very involved and it’s this inspiration, the inspiration that I get from my garden that can be a good motivating and inspiring energy for the project we are embarking upon. In a small way that is what I am hoping to contribute to this endeavour.

And so, yes, while I engage day after day in shaping my garden, it is true that my garden is also shaping me, opening me to new ventures and a different form of happiness and contentment in my life.
What an adventure!

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Chives flowers drying

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A variety of herbs drying for adding to teas and soups, and jars full of dried herbs

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Seeds of plantain for winter storage, and seeds of shallots

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Flowers of the feverfew plant, and self heal flowers already dried

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My fragrant geranium cuttings, and some produce for soup today.

BEARA A RUGGED BEAUTY

A few days ago saw us driving over the Healy Pass towards Lauragh in the Beara Peninsula, a most beautiful journey.  Leon Urus’ term, “a terrible beauty” certainly applies to this region. More and more rugged the higher you go, interesting rock formations, some quartz and crystals shining bright among the otherwise grey rocks. Insect eating plants, mosses, ferns, and very much lovely scented camomile flowers. Amazing views of bare rocky heights and lush green valleys.  Right at the highest point Glanmore lake can be seen and further down along the road plenty of Fuchsia, heathers, golden rod, and other wild flowers are still in bloom, and make for a lush tapestry of colour.
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BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE GARDEN

Today, a most beautiful, sunny, and warm autumn day, generously watered by a few heavy showers saw me getting a lot done, and also saw me discovering yet again the abundance and beauty of nature. To my delight I was able to capture some of this once again on camera in order to share. So enjoy and take delight.  Tomorrow more on what is happening garden work wise, and on the propagation that I was doing today.
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A house fly on the dandelion

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A hoover fly on a poppy

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Lady’s mantel, lavender and rain drops and the sun playing with it all.

AUTUMN LEAVES

“A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our affections, the rivers becoming frozen like our lives–all bear secret relations to our destinies.”
François-René de Chateaubriand

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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND FOOD FAIRS

This past week has been very busy for the people and businesses of Skibbereen. The yearly food fare has been in full swing. The Taste of West Cork festival, which is a week during which Artisan foods produced in West Cork are highlighted. Today’s event was a street market, closing off the main street of the town, lots of food stalls, among which locals and tourists were alike were enjoying the ambience, the more so as the sun was shining over us all. Some of the stalls would be quite familiar to those attending the local market on Saturday mornings at the Fair Green, but there were other stalls too and one could get quite a good oversight of what is available food wise locally, and what West Cork in particular is known for. It was lovely to see so many children and adults enjoying themselves. We were listening to the music and enjoying the dancing provided by the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, an organisation which promotes Irish music and culture. We enjoyed some excellent songs and among others, a brush dance by a young lad which I found very entertaining.

This morning over our usual breakfast conversations, my partner and I were, once again, discussing rural development, it is a subject close to my heart. We do live rural, on the outskirts of a town with a population of about 2000. In recent years many people, especially young people have had to emigrate due to lack of work. Many businesses have closed, but the town is still surviving and with the recent addition of a larger Art Centre, there is a lot going on in this town. Cultural events, different courses being run, societies and organisations, theatre groups, concerts, festivals, local colleges, library activities, a splendid voluntary Tidy Towns group, sport clubs, a fantastic river, a community garden, and much more.  Despite all this  I can still see room for improvements in and around the town. I can see pedestrian areas, better parking so as to clear the cluttered streets and make the town more people friendly. I could go on. It is up to us all to do something about our towns and areas, and develop our communities.
Small towns in rural Ireland are very healthy places to live in and around, rather than see them go down. Many of us are now not even bothering to go to the larger cities to do our Christmas or other shopping as we like to support our local shops.
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Looking towards the new Art Centre, and area that would be very suited to pedestrian walk way.  A little tributary of the Illen river, it’s called the Caol Stream.

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Irish dancing by the members of the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  And a Garlic food stall.

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More music by members of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  And something for the children to enjoy too.

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Artisan cheeses produced in several places in West Cork, and very tasty too.