ONE MORNING EARLY

This morning nature is calm, mature and mellow. 

I am sitting in the garden, it is early.

The trees, their canopies heavy with foliage are at their most impressive, not a wind is stirring in their rich green leaves.

There is a different feel to the world right now.  The frantic twittering of the young sparrows in the hawthorn tree has eased now that the fledglings are looking for their own food. 

Last night, after a really warm day, there was rain and the refreshing scent of earth and herbs is exhilarating.

A light mist hangs over the long valley, the blue sky is nowhere to be seen yet. Cows are lying in the gently sloping fields.

Yesterday I heard the young swifts in the nests under the eaves of our neighbour’s house. The young are being fed by swooping brigades of adults, they are feeding the fledglings’ purposefully so that they will be strong and ready for the long flight to Africa in a few weeks’ time.

Days like this remind me of Constable’s paintings and of Elgar’s music, of the English countryside of years gone by, and of their beautiful cottage gardens.

Many plants are in full bloom, others are busy creating their seeds.

It is mid-summer, nature is coming into its own, rich variety of wild plants and flowers cover the garden around me. I wish that I could stop time right now.

But breakfast has to be made, the day’s work has to start. Thank goodness that there is a moment for everything, for rest and for work, all in its own time.

NATURE ~ ALL AROUND US

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour—such is my idea of happiness.” —Leo Tolstoy,

“I think about this, not like someone thinking, but like someone breathing,
And I look at flowers and I smile…
I don’t know if they understand me
Or if I understand them,
But I know the truth is in them and in me
And in our common divinity
Of letting ourselves go and live on the Earth
And carrying us in our arms through the contented Seasons
And letting the wind sing us to sleep
And not have dreams in our sleep.”
― Alberto Caeiro

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” —Vincent Van Gogh. 

Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God. Euclid

I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my favourite quotes about nature and some of my recent photos of our garden. My own thoughts on nature are also reflected in the quotes that I picked. When I am in nature, on my own or together with my grandchildren, my daughter or with Ian, I feel totally at ease, calm and joyful, yes especially joyful. And I can but join in the sentiments of Sylvia Plath when she said that she felt her lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. and she thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.”‘

SAVOURING SPRINGTIME ~ SIMPLE JOYS

The days are lengthening, everywhere flowers are appearing, it is that delightful and energising time of the year again. Still under strict lockdown here in Ireland, many of us are giving full attention to our gardens, it is also the right time of the year for it, and the pleasure that being busy with plans and engaging in the actual garden work must not be underestimated. And so that is what I am doing too. We can still only go out 5km from our front door and although I have plans to go further afield and I have things in mind to photograph and write about, this will have to wait. Latest news is that maybe lockdown won’t be lifted until the end of April. Meanwhile everyone’s hair gets longer and longer! 🙂
Here is my mood board for this summer’s flowers in our garden. As you can see I am planning to grow a lot more flowers, some of which I have just sowed yesterday. But central to my plan are a few perennials, to start off with I plan to buy a Daphne shrub and a dwarf lilac tree . I love their scent. I have this vision of a bench surrounded by flowers and I’m hoping for a lovely warm summer, so that Ian can enjoy sitting in the garden and soak up the beauty of it. To me it means creating, in cooperation with nature of course, and creating is good for the soul.
Seed packets ready for sowing.

I also hope that nobody minds my photos of the spiders, these are Steatoda grossa, although I think the light coloured one is a Steadoda nobilis. They also live in our shed and I have become quite fascinated by them. There are at least a few of them.

I hope that everyone is keeping well. I think that I am very behind again with reading all your blogs, so from tonight onward I will make a start with that again, looking forward to connect.

MEETING WITH THE OMBU TREE

I hope to re-blog some of my earlier posts, this one about a tree I got to know while we were staying on Gozo.

agoyvaerts

While on the island of Gozo I took notes of and enjoyed some of the trees unfamiliar to me. It is nice and interesting to find out what they are called and then to search on Google about their uses, growth, country of origin and so on, it keeps me quite busy at times. Then I will take many photos of all the different attributions, leaves, flowers, seeds, seed hulks, shoots, trunks etc. And of course I like to share this in my blog, my blog is after all a celebration of all that the earth so generously has to offer to us and to life itself. And so here goes, I hope you enjoy.

The Ombu tree, or to give it its proper name the Phytolacca dioica L. is an attractive tree. I found it growing in the area of Ghajnsielem along the main road. I was amazed to…

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WINTER ACTIVITIES, PLEASURES AND PERSONAL GROWTH

Hard to believe that we are already getting close to the middle of February. Winter is giving way slowly to early spring, though today you would not think so. We are experiencing a bitterly cold wind from the East and lower temperatures than is normal for this part of the country, which usually has mild winters.

This beautiful landscape, colours natural and not edited. Taken on a very recent walk close by.

But while the cold spell lasts there is plenty of planning and creativity going on inside. I made a true to scale plan of the garden so as to have a good oversight of it (and for the fun of it too). And I tested the soil on all of the 12 raised beds and found that they are poor, some beds depleted even in Phosphorus, and Nitrogen, but did a little better on Potash. So now I know what to add and where. I’m also cutting out snippets from gardening magazines that apply to our garden in particular. I do have some good gardening books but I find this somehow more personalised as I only keep what applies to my experience here.

Primroses are all the go here in the shops and we are all buying them as they herald spring and hope.
And so this year I am getting on well with clearing our garden sheds and I am finding quite a bit of wildlife while doing so. This most perfect example of Peacock butterfly I accidently disturbed but I am happy to say that it went to sleep again a bit further into the shed, I guess that it realised it was too early to go flying about. ~ Be warned about the next photo as there is a spider in it!

Here in the small market town of Skibbereen a spice and exotic vegetable shop has opened and it did not take me long to go and check out the vegetables with which I learnt to cook in both S.India and in Mauritius. The delicious meals made thereof and the pleasure of the memories got me to buy quite a selection and for a whole week those dishes were on the menu. Among them okra and bitter gourd would have been most know to me, also the chayote squash. Some of the vegetables did not make it into the cooking pan as I want to root them and I was lucky enough to see a shoot coming out of both the taro root and the chayote squash, this is an experiment. Once before I grew a large plant from a taro root but it died when I went travelling.

A selection of my first purchase

And then there is the garden! Well we have had so much rain now for many weeks that the garden is saturated and I am hoping that this present wind will dry the things out a bit. The garden looks forlorn at the moment and I am not doing much in it until the weather turns. I have lots of spring bulbs coming on though and they are a pleasure to see. (in my home-made small greenhouses to protect from heavy rains). There are still quite some vegetables ready for use, the cut and come back Kale and the leeks among them.

Our daffodils stay in the soil all year round, they are doubles.

And to finish off a picture of how cosy it is inside while out there the icy wind rages, throwing lashes of hail and sleet against the window panes. The wood burner keeps us nice and warm.

I’m finding that although we are quite isolated here and especially so with the current lockdown, I am making very many interesting contacts online, being invited to interesting social media groups on culture and art and on growing in calmness, quietness and reflection. Some of these groups are in my mother tongue (Flemish) and I enjoy that very much. Making new friends and maintaining existing connections with old friends. I was also invited to become part of a meditation group. It all goes to make this lockdown time quite interesting and a place of growth for me.

I hope that all your activities and experiences are keeping you inspired too.

Much love to all.

IT MADE ME COME ALIVE

On the way home, a very scenic view in the village of Leap.

A beautiful evening at almost mid-winter time of year. Today saw me driving the 91 km to the nearest city from where we live. Cork city is beautiful and as I had to drive through some of the oldest part of it in the area of the Shandon tower and the butter market, I was absolutely delighted to have had a reason to travel up. It does not happen so often these days, partly due to all the lock-downs and partly because I do not like to leave Ian alone for too long. It takes about one and a half hours one way from our little town to the city, and along the way you travel through two other small towns. What I noticed today is that these little towns are growing rapidly, but they also have lovely older areas with interesting architecture.

But to talk some more about Cork city, it is a place that I love, I learnt my English there originally. There are so many interesting places to see and take in. Today I could not stop to linger where I wanted to take photos and just admire the old quarters as I had an appointment for a Covid test, routine before any procedure in hospital which is to follow on Thursday. The test centre was right up the hill through a residential area, many of these are small one story Irish houses, some of them have interesting features of Irish vernacular architecture. (taking a note to come back some time with my camera). The streets were fairly quiet which I was happy about as I do not drive often in the city. I felt relaxed and glad.

It made me realise that in these troubled times where for most of the year we have all been very restricted in our movements, it is so uplifting to be among people, to feel the buzz of the city, to admire the beauty of it all. It made me come alive and it energized me.

“I’M SO GLAD I LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE ARE OCTOBERS” L. M. Montgomery,

It was a mellow October afternoon and I decided to plant out some spinach seedlings which I still had growing in a pot. I had a wander through the rest of the garden and saw that there is actually quite a lot of winter produce doing well, and it pleased me. I also saw how beautiful everything looked, the colours, the autumn shades which are wonderful. An October sun illuminated everything. It was a perfect afternoon.
Glorious colours of the hydrangea even after the summer.
Pleasure can be gained both from tending to the garden and growing some things, or from just having a wander around.

Enjoy a lovely weekend everyone, and I would love to hear about your autumn garden too.

FURTHER RESTRICTIONS….BUT MEANWHILE

Dandelion coffee

Yes we are all experiencing more restrictions because of a recent increase in covid cases. We find ourselves living in quite a changed world these days, but the most important thing now I think is to look after our mental health, and the mental health of our loved ones and of the wider community if we can help in any way. Staying positive and finding things of interest to do where we don’t have to travel, as even taking a journey to other areas of Ireland is now not possible. And this is something that requires some pondering over, and adjusting to, for many of us.

So far for us personally it has not caused a problem as it seems we don’t get time enough to do all the things we want to do. Ian has started on his book again and bought some new software to help him understand more about writing using characters, personalities and settings. It is complicated and hugely interesting he says, and he is busy with it all day. His book is progressing well and he’s enjoying himself.

Last year I let our garden do mostly its own thing. No wild plants got pulled up and it all ended in a delightful wilderness. It also ended up in quite a bit of work and in a huge pile of compostable plant material. I decided to keep a little more order in the garden this year and have been pleased that I am finding quite a number of wild plants still growing which I am now learning about. Plants like plantain, cleavers, nettles, mullein, evening primrose, borage, dandelion for example, are all there for the picking. I find it such a luxury, and it makes it easy for me getting material for my herbal course. We study the plants in detail, having to draw the different parts of the plant which makes us more familiar with the whole structure, including roots and seeds. A very absorbing activity it is.

So that is one small part of our lives here in West Cork. I hope that wherever you are, all my dear readers and friends that you are well and that you stay well.

Blessings

Oh and I enjoyed that cup of dandelion coffee very much indeed 🙂

A LATE SUMMER EVENING SKY

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.     
Sarah Helen Whitman

I took a walk this evening and felt a real bit of a chill in the air, but it was still lovely and the breeze was actually refreshing after I spent the day painting inside. And I did find some time to check a few herbs in the garden. I also include a couple of photos from a few days ago. I’m busy with my new herb course. I am also learning more about the wild plants that come growing into the garden, at this time of year the woundwort is still in full bloom and much desired by the bumblebees, lots of them. The flower bud on my ginger plant has not changed for the past two weeks, I wonder if it will reach actual flowering but I fear not as already there is not enough sunshine and we are slowly heading into the fall season.

Stachys palustris – Marsh Woundwort
Tagetes Lucida, Mexican marigold ~ I think.
Our endive plants are flowering, a lovely blue display.