We have been experiencing very wet weather with strong winds during the past two weeks, the front garden is now full of leaves which I do not want to gather yet, they will be used as mulching on the vegetable beds, but I have also recently learned that they can be the homes of many different little creatures and so I want to give them a chance at survival and only carefully lift them at a later stage. I’m also happy to see that our winter birds have returned to the bird feeder, the finches, sparrows, robins, jackdaws, collared doves, all the various tits and the dunnocks are back, and to my delight I’ve spotted a very active wren, one of my favourite birds. Yes for sure this is a great time of the year! Happy autumn to everyone, I hope that you enjoyed the little peek into my life at present.
I love growing feverfew, it is not only a great herb, it also looks beautiful in the garden among the lavender and the marigolds.
Among all the wild and garden flowers this summer I am still also growing some vegetables, and many herbs too of course. The large garlic was a succes this time, and the garden peas are doing real well.
This is just a little update at the end of this month of June, midsummer has just passed and I love the very early bright mornings, awaking at 4 o’clock very often while the first light appears in the Eastern sky, and the birds are singing, wonderful! And while the countries of continental Europe are scorching hot, we had a mellow feel to the day this afternoon with summer scents wafting up from the damp but warm earth, such a delight.
Henry James knew about these happy feelings when he said ““Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Are you enjoying a wonderful summer in nature?
My walking routine is so much more than an exercise regime ordered by my doctor. It is one of many things. It is an hankering after times past – times we spent in Gozo where it felt so good to walk everywhere and everyday, taking in the delightful scents and stunning sights of a Mediterranean land- or townscape. So my current walks here are a looking back in a sense, and a remembering of very positive energy which in itself is energising my today.
But it is more than that; it is a grounding of myself in this Irish West Cork landscape. For years I had felt restless here, discontented even, I wanted to travel and I did not feel as if I even belonged here, this landscape, this town and people – however beautiful and friendly, had totally lost its appeal for me and I often felt a stranger. And this despite there being a thriving Art Centre here and my contentedness about all my travels to India.
So when we returned from Gozo in spring 2018 I decided to do something about this, I could not continue the way I was. I started to look at this place with fresh eyes. Discovering new aspects of this town and area, nature and vernacular architecture, people, and I studied the map carefully to know all the hills, the rivers and the surrounding area, keeping in mind the four cardinal directions to orientate me precisely. And I walk, I walk everywhere and my body is feeling so grateful, I feel fitter for it in my every movement. My mind smiles and I’m constantly making plans to explore even more places in the vicinity, little walks and big walks. I have plans to visit and explore surrounding villages too, just as I did in Gozo.
And all this is giving me a sense of belonging and of feeling good in this space on earth, many is the time when I have felt very isolated here in West Cork, cut off from the rest of Europe and the world. I did not like this feeling and then I would hanker to go back, to return to Belgium, even after all these years. But I know that I am here to stay, and so I need to ground myself as much as I can, and I think that I now have found the way to do this – finally – after many years I am beginning to find a sense of place, a sense of belonging.
Yesterday’s walk was not long, it was in open space on the ring road around the town. It opens up views of the town and the hills behind it and shows the river Ilen upstream going off to its source, and downstream flowing into the town. These are good views. And while a constant flow of traffic does not make this walk particularly peaceful, it is nevertheless a walk I love. Many spring blossoms grace the shrubs and many wild flowers grow along the edge of the roadside. Fine stone walls have been built along some of this road, in local rock, shale, in slate-blue colour, with the odd bit of striking white quartz here and there, beautiful.
As I look towards the town centre, my eyes casting over a wide area of marshy ground, I notice works are still ongoing, the building of flood protecting walls. Skibbereen was built on marshland which makes the town prone to flooding. The town centre lies in a long valley, open to the West and North, and protected from the Atlantic Ocean by hills to the South and South-east.
I do believe that in every place on this wonderful earth of ours there are many interesting and exciting things to discover. Finding out about the place we live does give us a sense of belonging.
I would love to hear about your experiences and feelings about your sense of place or your sense of belonging. I would find it to be most interesting.
Wishing all my dear friends and followers all over the earth at this time of the year blessings and happiness. And most of all Peace worldwide and also in our own lives and in ourselves. Much love to you all.
Yesterday my sister left Gozo to return home to Lier in Belgium. We enjoyed two weeks of chat and sightseeing, though I must admit a lot of our time was spent enjoying coffee and cake in a variety of places around the island. Nevertheless we did manage to fit in walks and visits to various sights, but mainly we soaked up the spring feeling, the massive amount of wild flowers and the charm of Victoria’s historical narrow streets. As there is only one year between us we grew up quite close and shared a bedroom most of our childhood years, at night my sister would tell me stories which at the time fascinated me, they were of adventures we would find ourselves in. She still always brings me books, and much of our chats would evolve around book discussions, the love of reading we both share. We also both spent our working lives with books and people, she as an editor working for a magazine catering for libraries, and I as a branch librarian in a small town in Ireland. Both have been very rewarding and enjoyable jobs.
Amazing to see the banana trees on Gozo, Josefine could not believe her eyes.
Two sisters, Josefine and myself among the Mimosa flowers which are now opening.
St.Georges square where we spent time drinking coffee and listening to the bell ringing.
Tower of St.Josephs in Qala, and an example of a roundel found on a house in Ghajnsielem.
The fig tree already showing fruit and opening its leaves, poppies are flowering now too making the meadows very colourful, and a hoverfly on a lovely sunny day.
This Gozitan lady working her lace in the doorway of her house, a lovely sight.
More wildlife, this on a narrow pathway at Mgarr.
The narrow alleyways in Ir-Rabat never fail to charm anyone. Josefine too loved them and we spent quite some time walking them, every time you do you discover more things of interests.
It’s quiet now around here, Ian and I going about our various tasks and peacefully enjoying the life. The excitement of Josefine’s visit is over, a space is now empty, but memories will stay and lots of thoughts remain of our various chats and discussions. A rewarding time it was, that is for sure.
Below follow some quotes from people I admire. I have put them among photos of our garden showing how lush it is at this moment, a moment to relish and savour, a moment to be thankful for and to enjoy to the full. Yes another summer is in full swing ~~~~~~~~
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, everyone of them sufficient” Marilynne Robinson
“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” Amit Ray
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” Meister Eckhart
“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” – Ramana Maharshi
“You have a treasure within you that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Well today we choose the path, at least we thought that we did, together with my daughter and four of my grandchildren, all of us girls we choose to take a walk in Dromillihy Forest, a walk that led us to the freshly opened bluebells which carpeted the forest landscape in between the deciduous trees. A wonderful view to behold! The girls were climbing the lower branches of the larger trees and excitedly looked for the fairy houses hiding between the ferns and mosses. The children love the forest, love the leaves in autumn and everything else in between. I’m also a tree lover, even hug them, we all do – it feels good. Here the trees are often covered in ivy and moss, also in beautiful lichens. We were touching the moss today and it was as soft as feathers, or silks with a lovely springy feeling like marshmallows. My youngest grandchild, she is only two, choose me as the darling of the day and held my hand right through the walk, we ran down the hilly paths she laughing out loud, a real nature child she is. All the children love nature. We discovered Wood anemones, violets, and other little spring flowers. The scent of the bluebells though was fine and delicate and spread itself all around.
It is the highlight of being back in Ireland, activities with my grandchildren, and chats with my daughter.
The Maltese islands, what a hold you have come to have over me! It all started at the airport last spring when we arrived on a sweltering hot night and I could sense a scent that I was not used to, at the time I did not take too much notice but later I remembered it and I got to know what it was that I could smell. It was the scent of limestone! I know this sounds a little unbelievable or impossible, but I swear by it myself. It was the start of my love affair with these islands, and it’s not only the scent – because of course that was only the first impression, later other scents took over, a variety of flowers for example.
In the light of day though, it was not the scent either that made me love this place so much, it is the limestone, the honey coloured limestone which surrounds me here, I breathe it, I see it with my eyes constantly because the houses and other buildings are all built in it, and it is so very pleasing to the eye. In fact I think it feeds one’s soul, no I am sure of it.
So after spending a month on Malta and a month on Ghawdex (Gozo) we went back to Ireland for the summer, and on the first of October we were back, we rented a flat from a very nice man, this in the heart of Ir -Rabat (Victoria). I am totally relaxed here, I probably absorb the calcium from the limestone and this is exactly what I need. (I was born and raised in the Kempen and Antwerp, a sandstone area, sandstone has its origins in quartz rock, it contains silicon. But what this has to do with the limestone here actually is nothing, it is just that I seem to be sensitive to what soil or rocks I am living on and this limestone suits me so very much, I feel happy and relaxed here. It is also the beauty of this rock type all around me, wherever I look I see the stone, and in the evening sun the stone turns to pure gold. I cannot get enough of it.
So I am trying to educate myself a little in the geology of the Maltese islands, I took out some books from the library and did out a table of the different layers of rock that are to be found here.
The lower Globigerina limestone is the stone that is mainly used as a building material, they call it Franka on Gozo. This stone is made up of a fine grain and is easily workable. It is a most beautiful stone to look at and it makes the houses, churches and buildings on Gozo very attractive. It is an easy medium to carve and this is done with great skill here.
Because this stone is soft it erodes easily too over the years. Very often fossils can be seen plainly, mainly planktonic fossils.
I am not well up in geology, therefore I cannot talk freely as I would like to do about the rock formations, but I am learning.
More examples of limestone, and carvings. Below are examples of the limestone found at the cliffs at Xlendi, magnificent to look at.
Then (below) there is an example of the blue clay rock formation, it overlies the Globigerina Limestone formation and erodes easily.
The two books that I used for information, I took them out from the library and was glad to have found them.
Alas this is my incomplete discussion on the rock formations of Gozo. There is so much more to say about these rocks.
I would just like to share some of the beauty of this lovely town where I am living at this moment. There is so much to explore, everyday brings something else interesting. Like in the old part, the picturesque narrow streets leading to St George’s Square and cathedral. There is a museum there that is very worthwhile of a visit. I will be spending more time there. So much to learn about the history of this place, the people and their traditions. Luckily we will be here long enough to explore.
Gozo Gossiping, a sculpture by Joe Xuereb in Globigerina Limestone