Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reflections on Ol' Ireland

Dear readers. I apologize for being so long in writing, and wonder if anyone is still out there?

We are still in Ireland, caught up in the middle of a delightful morass of gorgeous days. This is one of the best - puffy with white and wide cloud shadows, ultramarine inbetween, green and smooth and sheep-mown and voluptuous below -

I wrote to my father that this part of Ireland reminds me very much of Wisconsin, the driftless region along the Mississippi. The first time that I woke up here I thought that that was where I was - in the midwest, mysteriously redeposited, and I was confused, but glad.

Before going into particulars, I would like to begin with an explanation of why I've not written. The underlying reason is The Future. Both Matt and I have been very preoccupied with searching for people to stay with in Amsterdam, arranging dates to be in Paris, and attempting to find farms to WWOOF at in France. We must still find a place to fill out our last few European days in Barcelona...

And this is not to mention how consumed we have been by the sorting through of the excess of opportunities regarding 2010 farm apprenticeships, internships, academia, living arrangements, etc!

And of course, weeding a place like this:

the raised vegetable beds

Or, triumphing in a place like this -

the pond garden

Plus, attempting to resurrect some semblance of correspondance with the people back in the Old Country, which is in no way Europe, but indeed America. And not only with the people, but with the zeitgeist itself. It has been very strange to be on this lovely property full of Time magazines and cable TV, to try easing myself back into a little bit of knowledge about what is going on in the States, and seeing that politically everything seems in quite a tangle and the recession is still on (though getting better, at least for some?). Part of me is glad to be in Europe in a time like this, though after much thought, the current events also encourage me to return home.

* * *

There is always such a fine line between August and September, and I have actutely felt this line for many of the days that we've been here. School beginning, the air sharpening to a crisp, pungeant companion. The silence brought on by autumn's arrival.

Sometimes when I am in the vegetable garden, spreading rotted manure or weeding, I can feel the preparations into autumn, eventually into winter. There is literally nothing to be heard, the atmosphere stagnant but for its clean chill, and only occasionally is there the flutter of one bird, or the gust of a sparrow flock.

It is dragonfly season. Sitting around the pond having tea, we watched them hitch upon each other, flitting, darting, curling their tails. When I go walking around six, just at the crease of afternoon and evening with Cosimo, they fly above me and swallow up the midgets (this is what the Irish call midges).

Maile asked me if I am constantly happy and meeting with good adventures at every turn. I realize that I have been incredibly optimistic in these blog posts. As travel tends to be, these months continue to be concentrations of life. Very exciting, rather over-whelming, full of human drama and joy and longings. I miss "home" (in spite of the allusiveness, for me, of this word, as I've been such a transplant for so long, between Milwaukee and New England, finding that word in people oftentimes moreso than in places) - I miss that concept, that aggregation of places and friendships, and I miss it far more than I thought that I would. I think part of the isolation is due to the difference in this sort of travel to the sort that I had done before. Though I've lived in a few different places, it was usually for enough months to establish some sort of a community, to become involved and see fruits of labors.

Thinking back, we have left many legacies. Potatoes in Alpine France, Coffee stains in Italy, lettuces in West Cork and a corrugated iron roof in the Mediterranean. But when we left France the potatoes and their leaves and stems were still in the ground, and we hardly got a chance to witness the absurd miracle of the roof that Matt and Isaac erected down south.

On the other hand, we ate cheese from the milk that we kneaded out of goats and had soup from the lovage that we harvested with Francoise's gorgeous Opinel knives from the Savoie, and here we came upon surpises of potatoes while turning the soil up, after weeding it faithfully, which gave gumption to a good omelet and now fill the kitchen with their small and plump bodies.

Being in Ireland has leant itself to a wealth of revelations and contemplations. Brilliant books, old friends, new friends, the grace of an immaculate landscape, the change in complexion after days of rain. And being on this small holding has been a welcome respite, a cloister of flowers and plans, and I think that when we'll be in Amsterdam on the 29th, and America in November, our time in County Cork, and our 180-some days (and counting) on this continent and its islands will have helped us be ready for it.

With that, I will leave you for now. It is too rare a day (as Jane Austen would put it) to spend it inside.

With love,


These, and more pictures, can be found here.
Also, I have finally gotten the chance to upload some of the various little films that we have taken, which can be viewed here.


  1. Yeah. People now hate Obama (and healthcare, go figure) and the recession is officially "over." The U.S. is a weird place right now. Canada still rocks though.

  2. Hi Jenny and Matt!
    Oh! How i just love your blogs! Continue to Love and Live Life! Oh! What a wonderful life you have now in Europe!
    Sending my Love